Beautiful day yesterday!

We had a very wintery winter this year.  In January, we had weather so cold that we had wind chill warnings.  The coldest temp was -17F with a -40F windchill.  We missed 3 days of school because of the cold weather.  Also, even though we have had 56 inches of snow (46 inches is the average), through the end of February, we’ve haven’t had a major snowstorm.  That 56 inches fell pretty much an inch or two at a time!  The snowplow drivers must have been exhausted because it was about every other day for a while there. The cities are all running out of road salt, too!

It’s a good thing spring is coming and we got a glimpse of it yesterday, with temps that reached into the high 50s!  I loved being outside with only a fleece and not needing a hat or mittens!  Sarah and I took Jasmine to her favorite walking spot at the bridle trails on the south side of Sheboygan.

The snow was really soft, though, and hard to walk on.  It was similar to walking on dry sand on the beach. Jasmine and I both worked hard!

We even turned off the furnace and opened up the windows for 2-1/2 hours yesterday, too.  I loved getting fresh air into the house.

Snow in Sheboygan

We’ve had 47 inches of snow this winter, in Sheboygan. Yesterday, we got 6 inches.  It’s our biggest snowstorm so far!  Then it was nice and warm today, so the roads are already in pretty good shape!  In January, it kept snowing, but the temps were so cold, the salt really had no effect. I haven’t been taking that many pictures of the snow, because we kept only getting an inch or two, and it didn’t seem worth the bother, but now, with 6 inches, it’s starting to look like further shoveling will be a challenge.  In other news, we could get more snow on Thursday!  Or not.  It all depends on the storm track.

So, today, was in the 30s.  It felt great.  After -17 with a -40 windchill, everything will feel warm from here on out!  I keep laughing at the weather men who keep talking us it’s “cold”, but only down to zero, or it’s “cold” getting down into the 20s.  We’ve been down to -17.  We can handle it.

Still, there has been snow packed on my driveway all winter.  We aren’t so good at shoveling and then Gary doesn’t always have time to snowplow right away, so it’s been sad.  I’d like to see my driveway again. Maybe we will, someday.

Jasmine checking out the spirea bushImage

Jasmine, following me down the driveway, instead of sitting by the snowbanks!Image

My neighbor’s evergreen trees.  Not every storm makes them looks so pretty!Image

The sky was trying to be blue!  We get so many cloudy days in WI. Maybe it’s because of the lake!

Nearing the end of fall.

It already feels like winter and we’ve already had a touch of snow here and there.  Tomorrow, we are supposed to get 4-7 inches and they say it will be “lake-enhanced” snow, so that could mean we get more, but they don’t always know.  We’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings.

We had such pretty colors this past fall.  The colors just went on and on and on.  From the first trees that changed, to the last trees that changed, it felt like we weeks and weeks of reds, yellows and oranges.

red-maple-tree-Greenbush-2013
This is near a picnic area in the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit, near Greenbush. We found a nice trail, but it sure had a lot of hills! It was nice day to walk. 9-24-13
red-sumac-greenbush-2013
We found this in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, too, on 9-24-13. Red sumac leaves are so pretty in the fall.
red-creeper-evergreen-ryankelly-2013
Sarah and I had never noticed this plant before, but this year we saw it everywhere!
Dawn and Sarah on Parnell Tower
10-13-13 – We hiked up to Parnell Tower. The colors were spectacular!
red-maple-leaf-Parnell-2013
We saw this red maple leaf on the steps as we were coming down the tower.
oak-leaves-Parnell-2013
We found this tree near the parking lot, before you climb the big hill and climb the tower.
orange-maple-parnell-2013
This tree was near the parking lot at Parnell Tower. It’s very tall! The leaves were so orange!
yellow-maple-backyard-2013
Yellow maple tree in the backyard. A few days after this picture was taken, the leaves were gone! Picture was taken 11-5-13.

I’m so behind on taking pictures of dishcloths and also getting them knit!  LOL!! I need to spend some more time actually knitting, rather than looking at Facebook and Twitter!  One of the cooler ones we did recently was an illusion snowflake in blue and white!  When you look at it straight-on, it’s hard to see the snowflake, but look at an angle, and you can see it then!

Mid-June and I still need socks!

We have a day or two, where it is nice, where I think the air conditioning would be nice, but then the sun starts going down and it cools off nicely, so the AC stays off, the furnace doesn’t run, but yet my feet are still cold! I’m much happier with socks on, except that it’s nearly officially summer and I can’t stand to have bare feet. I don’t know if we are ever going to really warm up.  Last summer, we got up to 100 and this summer, it drops into the low 50s at night.

I wouldn’t be so concerned, but my daughter, who is studying horticulture, said that our tomatoes need the temp to be 55 or higher, at night, to form tomatoes!  So, I keep worrying about us not actually getting any tomatoes from our 2 tomato plants (Wisconsin 55 and Yellow Pear Tomatoes) It would really be a bummer not to have home-grown tomatoes.

Our basil doesn’t necessarily look happy, either.  I think it likes more heat, too.  We are only in the mid-60s today, which is good for humans, but maybe not so good for the plants that want it warmer.

Also, not that I would be swimming that much, but it has barely been warm enough to go swimming, too.  If I was a kid, I’d really be bummed.  Some friends of ours did put up their pool and did swim in it already, but one of the kids looked really cold in the picture.

My lupines and wave petunias are happy, though!

06.08.13 Lupines Petunias

Satellite Pics of Snow Cover now vs a year ago

Satellite Pics of Snow Cover now vs a year ago

Last year, we were in the 60s, so our little bit of snow just disappeared.  On February 26-27, we got 15-17 inches of snow in east central WI.  It is still very much present, although melting slowly. These satellite pictures are quite different from each other!

15-17 inches of snow on 2-27-13

I’m so behind on this post. From 5pm on 2-26-13, and all through the day on Wednesday, we got 15-17inches of snow.  It seemed every media outlet had a different opinion on how much snow we got.  We woke up on Wednesday morning to a snow day and about 2-3 feet of snow drifted across the entire driveway, plus that much snow over all the sidewalks, too.  It took Gary 3 hours to get everything snowblowed, plus, he really had to push the snowblower through the snow, since it was wet and heavy.  Ugh.  I just stayed home most of that day, although, I did go out to the soup supper and Lenten service from about 5pm to 6:30pm.  That’s only about a mile or two away.  Earlier in the day, the roads had been really bad, so I just stayed home.

Pictures of the snow:

Today, was rainy, windy, cold, and foggy.  The warm above-freezing temps are melting the snow, but it’s still going to take a while to melt all this snow!

Snow and Rain

Last Thursday, we got 6 inches of snow. It was a day to just stay home, make soup and watch it snow.  It was so pretty outside, because the snow clung to all the branches.

Snow in the front yard
Snow in the front yard on 2-8-13.

Then on Sunday, it rained hard all day.  The driveway is a mixture of puddles and ice, which is supposed to be all ice, as the night goes on, and gets colder.  Tomorrow, it’s supposed to be quite windy.  It’s never a dull moment around here!

Jane Brody’s Chicken Stock

From Jane Brody’s Good Food Book:

Jane Brody’s Chicken Stock

2 pounds (approximately) chicken scraps
Cold water to cover (at least 2 quarts)
1 large onion, peeled and stuck with 3-4 cloves
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 to 2 ribs celery, halved crosswise
1 to 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 bay leaf
2 or more sprigs parsley OR 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 tsp tarragon
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp dillweed
Salt to taste (optional)
12 peppercorns OR 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a large pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer the stock for at least 1 hour. The longer the stock cooks, the richer it will become; but don’t cook it so long that that broth boils away.

If time permits, let the stock cool before pouring it through a fine strainer or sieve into a fat-skimming measuring cup, a bowl, or other suitable container. Press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. ( I always use cheesecloth to strain the soup, too!)

If using the fat skimmer, decant the fat-free broth into containers for storage; otherwise refrigerate the broth until the fat hardens on the broth’s surface for easy removal. (Depending on the amount of gelatinous protein in the chicken scraps, the broth may gel at refrigerator temperatures.)

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I usually refrigerate the stock overnight and remove the fat the next day. Then I add the veggies (carrots, celery and onion usually), and add a teaspoon or two of many different spices: oregano, basil, dillweed, marjoram, sage, thyme, and lots of pepper. I try to watch my salt, when I do cook at home, so I really don’t add very much, if at all. If I get enough other herbs in there, I really don’t miss it! I know I made this once for my church’s Lenten soup suppers and it disappeared quickly.

Anyways, I cook the veggies until tender, throw in 2 cups of cooked chicken, make a cup or so of noodles (dry) and then add those, too. I usually cook the noodles separately.

We sometimes have a whole chicken for supper. Immediately after supper, I cut the chicken from the bones and put all the scraps in my stock pot. I strain the soup and put it in the fridge before I go to bed. If I don’t make the stock right away, it just doesn’t happen!

Oh man, I have chicken scraps in the freezer, too.  I’m getting hungry for chicken soup, too.  Plus it’s nice to have broth in the freezer, too. The weather is cooling off a bit, now that it’s September, so I’m getting hungry for soup!