Several months back a friend of ours asked Jason about doing a side job for him. It was the kind of carpentry work Jason enjoys and is really good at and so he decided to go for it. We knew there was no way it could be done in a timely fashion if it was to just fit in the cracks, so I looked for the first week in my work schedule that didn't already have meetings in it and blocked it out as a vacation week - or in this case a staycation since Jason was the one going off to work and I was staying put. Since we weren't preparing to go for a trip, the week kind of snuck up on me. In reflecting back on the week, I think this actually had a profound impact on my enjoyment of the week off. I had little time to build up expectations and went into the week open to whatever it might hold - which ended up being a lot of leaf and pine needle raking!
Tuesday evening on our way to and from small group I was reflecting some on the week. I put it right up there as one of the best vacations I've had in a long time. Here's a list of the things that made it so wonderful: being at home, not waking to an alarm, staying in "comfy clothes" all day every day, playing games with the girls, puttering in the kitchen, making and eating yummy foods together as a family, reading stories, going for walks and jogs with Alida and a bike ride/jog with Kali, having friends over, being outside a lot, getting lots of exercise raking and making a noticeable difference around our property, being more involved in the daily rhythms with the ducks, chickens and goats, getting a few naps and reading a book for pleasure. It really was lovely! It was hard to see it come to an end and the catching up phase at work is far from complete...
The week also held more big transitions here at Tangly Woods. After enjoying Emily and Jonas' presence on our homestead for a number of months, they moved to their home in Ktown over the weekend. We all knew it was an inevitable change and something to be celebrated (a milestone in their home renovation project), but it was hard to be 100% happy about it. There is no way to replicate the experience of bumping into each other often because you live under the same roof. I know all of us will remember those months together fondly. I was amazed at how the girls took the transition in stride and were right in there helping to load the truck - they seemed to do better with it than me. Maybe they are used to the comings and goings around here by now. We are all glad that they are just a super quick drive or a pleasant walk down the road!
Jason did finish up his carpentry job in time to have Tuesday free for a duck and chicken butchering day. He didn't manage to do that, however, without pulling an almost-all-nighter one night. I woke with a start at 4:30 a.m. to see the porch lights still on and, upon searching around the house, didn't find him sleeping anywhere. When I called he was on his way home so I got his supper warming which he ate around 5 a.m. before crashing. It reminded me of the push before we moved into this place where Jason worked 36 hours straight on rewiring the rooms that we were planning to move into first. Not the kind of thing you want to do often and I was very glad to have him home safely. The next evening we sent him off to bed around 7:45 p.m. and the girls and I hung out for the evening. Alida is on the cusp of really being able to play games with us, but still needs lots of coaching most of the time. And if she is at all tired and starting to get rammy she is more likely to mess the game up by throwing cards or removing pegs... The game we are having fun with right now is Mastermind, which Kali is now ready to play the hard way (according to the scoring rules). So we fit games in here and there between tasks.
I wouldn't have gotten nearly as much raking time in if the girls weren't enjoying being together so much. They played at the swing set, took the goats for walks, played games inside, came along and jumped in my leaf piles, etc... And then, of course, there were times that Alida wanted her mommy and so I could be found with a sheet full of leaves on my back and hauling Alida on my front - no wonder by the end of the week I thought I saw the faint definition of arm muscles. :)
I was glad to get to ease back into work. I had two full days of work this week and now am home enjoying a three day weekend. The first morning back to work, I had to tear myself away with Alida just barely holding it together - the little quivery lips do me in every time. Thankfully yesterday she was still sleeping when I left and this morning we happily woke up side by side. She'll turn to me and say, "I'm all done sleeping" which is very appropriate at 7:30 in the morning and less so at 11 p.m. when she hasn't fallen asleep nursing but seems to think the night is already over.
In general Alida seems to be more of a sleeper than Kali. She is still consistently taking an afternoon nap, which Kali gave up way earlier than this. And most days she falls asleep in the jogger while I'm getting a walk or a jog in. She will sometimes insist that she doesn't need a nap or wants to keep playing but she never resists for very long and normally sleep overtakes her by the time we reach the end of our road, sometimes the end of our lane! But from when she wakes up until she crashes for a nap, she's a busy little gal. This is her right before the nappy walk trying to put multiple hats on her head...She's got lots of ideas for her day - coloring is currently right at the top of the list, but she is also my little side kick in the kitchen.
I'm glad my girls seem to enjoy being in the kitchen, since it is my favorite room of the house. And I'm glad that they are both currently semi-adventurous when it comes to trying new foods. I don't feel like I've done a lot of blog posts about all the yummy things we are eating lately, but maybe that is because it is starting to be the norm - that our meals are colorful, delicious and the ingredients largely sourced from right around us. That is so very exciting to me!
Jason was in charge of supper last evening. Our neighbor G had some extra deer bones that he passed to us which Jason cooked down for soup stock. He then picked the meat off the bones and set it aside. He added some of our home grown potatoes to the stock and then sauteed some of our purple onions and garlic in venison fat and added that. Finally, we put in a whole bunch of chopped carrot TOPS and the chopped venison. The bowl of steaming soup seasoned with salt and fresh ground pepper was delightful. Why have we been composting all our carrot tops? I find it so odd that I've never looked into whether we could eat them. They are super tasty (a little like parsley), as are the carrots we are digging right now (the first delicious carrots we've grown here). And since I'm still a little obsessed with all the things you can make pesto with I decided to google "carrot top pesto." Of course it exists, and I made it and we enjoyed it, alongside the soup, on rolls made with pureed stinging nettles and ricotta whey. Yum!
I got to play in the kitchen this morning, in between getting more loads of leaves from our neighbors. Here's what we enjoyed for lunch (I was going to take pictures but forgot, so use your imagination!):
- Roasted Rosemary Sweet Potatoes - our home grown sweet potatoes tossed in olive oil, chopped garlic and rosemary picked right outside our back door!
- Roasted Sunchokes (otherwise known as Jerusalem Artichokes) - given to us by our neighbor and which we enjoyed much more than ones I had made a few years back. I just tossed them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Alida gobbled them down!
- Savory Spinach and Broccoli Quiche - made with spinach from our friends down the road, broccoli from next door, our onions and garlic and chicken eggs, and milk from our milk share.
- Cranberry Pecan Orange Muffins - the only "semi-local" thing in these was the wild West Virginia cranberries hand delivered to me by my mom! This was an attempt to use up some cranberry pulp she had given to me and to make maximum use of my oven while I had it on this morning.
Jason hasn't gotten in on much leaf raking at all this year since other projects have kept him sufficiently occupied. We have our sights set on wrapping up some construction projects this winter and today is the start of one of those. Finishing up the eaves is the kind of thing we might never get to if it was up to me, since I tend to not notice this kind of thing. But now that he is working on it, I'm excited to have the outside of our house look like we didn't stop before we were done! Getting near the top of the priority list on the inside of the house is getting around to putting trim on the windows we replaced last year!
Well, I now have a not-so-little sleeping bundle in my arms. I think the construction noise outside may have roused her prematurely and she isn't quite ready to wake up. When she does, if it hasn't started raining, we'll see what headway we can make on some more pine needle hauling. :) I'm kind of getting a kick out of myself this fall as it feels familiar to my weeding binge this past spring. I started noticing weeds along the roads and would dream about weeding. Well, I'm noticing leaves everywhere! I think it probably has something to do with how I enjoy visible results. Weeding and raking both give one the gratification of making a very noticeable difference immediately. I think Jason is enjoying the fact that I'm determined to get as many as possible on the days I'm at home! So maybe a staycation in the spring for weeding and a staycation in the fall for raking should be coming seasonal traditions! I could get into that. For not, it's time to play a round of Mastermind with Kali!