Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ten Things I'm Thankful For ~ Winter edition

 I thought about posting a seasonal "Ten Things" for some time now, so why not begin with winter? 

Yes, when one thinks of winter, immediately thoughts of colder temperatures, winter woolens, shoveling snow, and outdoor (freezing type) of sports comes to mind. However, there are other small blessings along the way, which often are not even pulled to the forefront when thoughts of winter come to visit. Like how beautiful it looks with a fresh canvas of fallen snow covered trees, bluer than blue skies offering plenty of vitamin D to a soul, how beautiful and purposeful those handmade winter woolens really are, and how one really can be a four season outdoor person year round.
It's about being prepared for any type of weather, taking it all in stride, always looking to the bright side, and knowing full well that spring is just around the corner, just when everyone gets fed up with more snow covered roadways. 

If you've never read this blog before, then you'll not know just how much I love snow. Yep, bring it on! But, be prepared...that's the key. Trust me. :)

Here's a "Ten Things" post for winter...

 - 1 - I'm thankful for the discovery of foot and hand warmers, even though they only last for a few hours, still they keep me "warm". Ahhhhh.... These offer a fabulous  reprieve from feeling frozen digits and thinking about how they will surely snap off any time soon. 

For me, these are terrific for when I accompany my girls to the barn, and subsequently freeze within minutes after arriving in the arena corners to watch their lessons. Aside from jumping up and down to keep warm, and face spooking horses, these are my best option along with my blanket I remain bundled in on the sidelines. It's just that cold some days, and it used to take me hours to thaw near the fire afterward, but now these babies are my solution to the problem. 

- 2 - I'm thankful for crazy things that shake the ground at 2:30am during a ferocious wintry storm, the ones that never hit our home!

Yes, the American Beech tree above was very tall alright, and we were already aware that it appeared to be dying. Perhaps it was hit by lightning? Perhaps not? Either way, the lower trunk was really looking sorry, and we alerted our tree faller to take a look at it last September. 

We thought we'd have until the spring to figure out how it could be safely removed without ripping up our yard. Alas, just a few weeks ago, with whipping winds going crazy, we awoke to the ground shaking, branches breaking, and an "oh,oh" for which tree might have fallen. It was dark, vision was poor, so the hours ticked by until dusk when we could peer outside to learn it was this tree that had toppled over. 

It was approximately 160feet tall, and it's base about 8 feet wide with roots pulled up from the sheer weight of the fall. It's now sprawled from one woodsy path to touching another out back, but it will just have to wait until spring now to be removed. Looking to the bright side, it didn't cost a thing for us to have it chopped down, it fell for free. Free is good. However, tree loggers we are not, so we'll have to call the big guys in to get it out of here. In spring. I'll think about it then, and not now.

- 3 - I'm thankful for owning a snow blower! Yes, this machine gadget is about as wonderful as it gets when snow begins to build up on the ground. Okay, okay, I'll admit, coming from the west coast, I thought machines like this were complete nonsense and a poor investment, just a big boy's toy, you know? I now willingly stand corrected. Since we've now grown accustomed to having a foot or more of snow fall at one time, this little baby has been very helpful for clearing the driveway and pathways to our home. 

It's a little intimidating I know, but I was determined to learn how to use this machine by myself this year. as my big boys are not always around when the earth gets covered by a passing snow storm, and vehicles need to drive in and out of our long driveway.

I'm happy to report that indeed, I can start it, run it and carve artistically patterned rows all by myself now. It's just like mowing a lawn, or vacuuming. Right? Row by row, and inch by inch, within a few hours this duty feels great to be complete. :)

- 4 - I'm thankful for summer-like blue skies in winter, providing (as mentioned above) loads of vitamin D for winter people to keep healthy and happy. 

There is something to say about these types of days, when temptations to thrust open windows and doors is the only activity to be mindful of not doing. 

It makes me happy to have these lovely winter days upon us, it gives me incredibly energy, and sings merrily to me when waking up to these types of mornings. 

- 5 - I'm thankful for the opening of our local outdoor arena again this year. Last year, there weren't enough volunteers, nor was our winter as cold for as long as the year previous, resulting in a closed arena for the season. 

Every family around these parts really missed it! Happily there are two other outdoor arenas within a very short drive away for usage, but this one in particular is the best of the best. 

It's a bonus to be the size of a standard arena, complete with all the boards intact. Daily ice hockey players are skating here, always so much fun awaits the avid hockey nut for hours and hours at a time should one desire to be active for that long.  And for a $20.00 yearly family fee (pays for night lights, heated shack, equipment and gas to keep it cleared), how can anyone go wrong having this a stone's throw away from home.

- 6 - I'm thankful for hot cocoa and homemade egg/ham breakfast sandwiches fresh from the oven. In winter, these become hearty food fare to warm up anyone from the inside out. And they are so easy to make too! 

  • I always make at least one dozen at a time by breaking an egg into a greased muffin pan, and baking for 15 minutes @ 350 degrees in the oven. If greased properly, they just pop out intact. 
  • Because I use a convection oven, I can place all the opened english muffins on a cookie sheet, and toast on another rack, at the same time the eggs are cooking. 
  •  Next, I take pieces of ham, enough for each one, and also warm on another rack at the same time. Three trays in the oven at once, talk about time management! 
  • Slice pieces of cheese and put aside, use any type you have on hand. Today, I used cheddar. 
  • When the eggs are cooked, it's assembly time! 
  • If you aren't going to eat all the ones you make at one time, simply pop them in the freezer for a quick breakfast another day. Lately, these have been great accompaniments to bring for snacks to the ski slopes.

- 7 - I'm thankful for good sweeper/scrapers in winter! These photos were snapped at 6:45am. while we were on our way to drive my daughter to her twice weekly, before school babysitting job a short distance away. 

What a surprise to find the incredible amounts of falling snow at that time of day, and not usually parking outside in the first place. Over a foot of snow fell in just two hours that day. 

Our daughter was on the ball, the first one outdoors, and hopped to it clearing off the windows. Luckily she worked quickly because we hadn't factored in a flurry of activity at this early hour. My husband had left for work just an hour before, and his vehicle tracks were already gone.

- 8 - I'm thankful for beautiful night skies in winter, and bright snowy grounds lighting up our way. 

This photo screams winter to me, with a hockey net to one side (used all year long), snowy grounds, and straight ahead two pathways. The one on the left side was from an ATV blasting across the deep snow in the back, the other from the snow blower making the path to the back deck. It sure did look pretty outdoors this night. 

- 9 - I'm thankful for a few decent snow shovels! Winters here require the proper tools of the trade for use outdoors, and I feel we have greatly improved our snow removal stash, especially since the ones we used to own weren't really as good, or even necessary while living in the west. Here, we require "sturdy", and "tough". 

With all the snow falling, it was due time to get out to our back decks and get them all cleared off. What a job that turned out to be for this mama who insisted to do it for "exercise". It was quite powdery still, as it was freshly fallen, however it was heavy to get that deep stuff all removed. 

One wouldn't know from looking at the photo above, noticing the drop down from the doorway, but just to give you an idea of how deep the snow was this day, the snow shovel black area stood 18inches high, plus the drop in height!  

So now you can just imagine how deeply this snow fall had accumulated back there. "Done" though, is my kind of word. 

- 10 - I'm thankful for living in an area, that despite all winter weather odds, fun seasonal activities are not cancelled, or prevented, for they still exist outdoors. 

The usual fun for our gang since living in these parts has included many sporty activities, still we have a few firsts this year already. 

A friend pulled out their skidoos for the first time in two years, finally fixed and ready to blast off. This year our daughter and her friend were instructed on how to use one of them once more, and both were zooming about their property and trails while dragging one another on a GTsled. 

How so fun it was to watch them together, and to cheer them on!

There you have it folks - Ten Things! 

There are many other assorted activities I could feather in this "Ten Things" post, but then it would be only ten now would it? Smiling at that thought ~ only ten? Yes, Renee, only ten for today. 

Checking off some of my thankful notes that are uploaded and included here. Do you have a winter list filled with thankful things too? If not, maybe perusing my photos above will spark a few for you today. 

Offering snowy thoughts your way;