mille fois merci

The literal translation for the subject line is “a thousand times thanks”.  It seemed a fitting title for the Thanksgiving inspired recap of the many things I have to be thankful for.  Because while I may have been most vocal (and by vocal, I mean whiney) about the blues I had this year, I’m so lucky to have so much, be surrounded by so many, and have the opportunity to explore so much more.  So, instead of celebrating the wild and crazy night before Thanksgiving, I’m sitting here being grateful (less grateful for the cold that I caught from the dear goddaughter of mine last weekend, but still grateful).

I am thankful for new friends.  I struggled during the transition here, needing to make new friends and find new support systems.  I think I made a lot of progress with that this year.  I joined Meetup groups, accepted invitations to parties where I’d only know one or two people, opened up my home to others for dinners, and started scheduling happy hours.  I just realized I don’t even have a picture of one of my new favorite friends.  I met Jenn when her husband, whom I work with, invited me to a 4th of July bbq at their place.  I thought she was so funny I practically followed her from room to room like a puppy.  She and I are very similar and when I found out there was a Harry Potter themed murder mystery weekend at this castle lodge an hour away, I asked her if our relationship was at the place where we could talk about going away for the weekend.  Not only are we going, I think there’s about 8 others who joined us.  Grateful for friends who think that sounded like a good idea, friends who go to festivals with you, friends who like the movies you like, friends who come over for dinner…

New friends!

New friends!

I’m grateful for the friends I’m still in touch with even though I live far away from them.  I work pretty hard to stay in touch with people who matter to me.  Some days (weeks, years) I’m better than others, but it cannot be said that I don’t do my part to keep in touch with people I think add to my life, people who are awesome, doing interesting things, tell me interesting stories, tell me what I need to hear, tell me what I don’t want to hear, let me be crazy, encourage the good ideas…

A selection of those friends

A selection of those friends: Always my Claire, Meg and Kristy

Grateful for my family – as I get older and wiser – I continue to accept them, the roles we all play, and respect the boundaries that are in place.  I’m especially grateful for my niece and goddaughter this year.  I love that my sister and I FaceTime occasionally so I can see her, that I have a special place in her life, and that she is so very cute.  I’m grateful for getting to know some members of my extended family better.  From my mom’s cousins who live just north of Columbus and are so much fun to hang out with to cousins, aunts and uncles that I haven’t spent much time with until recently.  My youngest cousin on my mom’s side is a bright, intelligent, kind, and confident woman – when did that happen?  She is a far lovelier 24 year old than I was.  I was able to spend time with my Dad’s younger brother and his wife when they rolled through Columbus on their way to Buffalo earlier this fall.  Jerry is my godfather and was always a fun uncle growing up but as an adult I haven’t spent much time with him.  I don’t always get back for the holidays.  We spent a day together in Columbus and had so much fun!  I showed them so much of town, we toured quite a few pubs, introduced them to Kentucky Bourbon Ale (you’re welcome), showed off my house and got to hear stories about my dad.  It was a wonderful day and I think both parties were a little surprised.

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I’m grateful for my constant companions – these furballs.  Oh, if cats could talk…

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And I’m grateful for all the things I learned buying and working on my house.  I’m grateful to have been able to buy a home, start making it my own, and I’m grateful Lowe’s is just a mile away.

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A thousand thankful wishes from me tonight.  Happy Thanks & Giving to all of you, also.

 

 

Good news, bad news

Let’s play a little game I like to call: Which do you want first?

Oh, the good news?

Okay:

The littlest sister got married!

The littlest sister got married!

  • Littlest sister got married last Friday!  It was a lovely ceremony in Tower Grove Park.
  • I got to see a lot of family in a short amount of time because of the wedding.
Mostly this little baby!

Mostly this little baby!

  • Baby Avery was the flower girl and my cute nephews pulled her down the aisle in a wagon.
  • I got lots of pictures of my sister and my goddaughter.
Avery loves standing right now.

Avery loves standing right now.

  • Avery has earned the nickname “Stone Cold” among the family because she is a very serious baby.  She’s always looking at you like you’re just a little bit stupid.  I love that she’s very serious – I hope she grows up to love Jane Austen like Aunt Sarah.
So, while I was trying to get a pic of Avery and my bro-in-law...

So, while I was trying to get a pic of Avery and my bro-in-law…

Em is making this face trying to get a smile out of her.  This made me chuckle.

Em is making this face trying to get a smile out of her. This made me chuckle.

  • I got to hang out with “far away” Grandma.  It is always wonderful to spend time with granny and this time I taught her how to pose for selfies in this day and age…
...the duck face!

…the duck face!

  • There is the family you are born into and then there is Claire – and Saturday morning I got to hang out with the family I choose.  Claire and I met for breakfast at the new Rooster location on South Grand.  We weren’t sure we’d be able to connect this trip and I’m so happy it worked out.  I always need a dose of Claire.
  • I finished off the weekend by seeing Whiplash at the indie theatre down the street with my pals and then had them over for dinner afterwards.  Rex, Kevin, Peter and I enjoyed the movie a lot.  It’s an intense look at how people are motivated, what makes greatness, and a sick twist about ego and pride.  I think we were all happy to come back to my cozy house and relax after that.  It was dark and rainy and Peter and Kevin were on fire duty.  I learned about making newspaper knots to help start the fire better, make it burn hotter.

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Dinner was lovely, the gentlemen enjoyed everything (Italian Pork Roast, roasted cauliflower with parmesan & thyme, butternut squash soup, mixed greens, and gooey butter cake for dessert!) and all three went back for 2nds on dessert.  Gooey butter cake for the win!

  • Spontaneous song!  At dinner there was discussion about who first sang “Leaving on a Jet Plane” – John Denver or Peter, Paul & Mary.  I was sure it was PP&M.  Peter was sure it was John Denver. Rex is quick with the google and Peter wins.  He celebrates by starting off the song, I jump in and then the other two piped in.  It was a lot of fun.  Also impressive is how well we all knew that song.

Now for some bad news:

  • Littlest sister is still kind of a brat.  I always think one of these days she’ll grow up, see the bigger picture, but that weekend was not this past weekend.  I’m sure it will come across really mean if I give a lot of detail, so I won’t, but that sister won’t ever be my favorite person.  I like to do nice things for people and I’m at the end of my rope wanting to do nice things for her.
  • I still get a little heartsick anytime I’m in Tower Grove Park.
  • I missed the OSU v. Indiana game on Saturday.  My mom’s cousin gave me his awesome tickets (club seats!) for the game since he was going to be on vacation.  I was so excited to attend my first game.  The game time was 5pm.  On the tickets it was 5pm.  On the schedule it was 5pm.  I had changed my flight to leave STL and get back to Columbus by 1pm – that was the earliest I could get back.  I had plans to go straight to Rex’s house and we were going to do some abbreviated tailgating and get to the game.  Rex texted me Friday afternoon and told me to google the game time – it was now noon.  I thought he was kidding.  What?  Is that a thing?  How do you just change game times?  Something about game broadcast schedules and such.  I wished Rex fun at the game, told him to find a worthy game companion, and made plans for breakfast with Claire (silver lining!!).  So, I missed another season of OSU football AND the worst part is I have to come up with a new Christmas card picture.  I was all ready for it to be a pic of me with the field behind me or me and Brutus Buckeye.  Sigh.
  • Newspaper knots are not working for me tonight.  There will be no Monday night fire because after going through all of the remaining Sunday paper, I still could not get the logs to catch.   I do not know what I’m doing wrong tonight – log placement?  space between the wood?  Oh well.
  • I’m watching Ferguson on CNN.  You never want your hometown to be on national news as the site of the next potential race riot.  The grand jury verdict should be coming out any moment.  I want there to be non-violent reactions to this news – whatever it is.  I’ll keep the rest of my opinions on this to myself, opinions on this are plenty and sharing mine doesn’t help anything.  I will share this blog post, written by a St. Louis pediatrician, Dr. Ken Haller.  Ex Hubs knew Dr. Haller through the theatre group they both worked with and I met him on a few occasions.  He wrote this and posted it to FB a few days ago and the STL Post Dispatch and a radio station picked it up.  I believe people can react how they feel they must.  I understand being compelled to certain reactions.  Just listen to Dr. Haller’s words and think of how the children in the community will be affected.

Onward, upward

A while ago I applied for a Senior Consulting position at work.  Then I learned 28 other people applied for it.  That’s a lot.  I did the first interview right before I went to Philadelphia.  I got a call two weeks ago from the hiring manager.  I thought it would be to schedule the second interview.  Turns out it was just to offer me the job.  No second interview necessary.  I was surprised, speechless, and very, very happy.

Before I even interviewed for it, I decided I needed some new corporate headshots taken.  It was time to update the work profiles and such.  Also – The Secret -right?!  Act like you already have the thing you want.  So, I got the shots taken.  Then I got the job.

ssontheimer-9

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I officially start in a week.  I’ll get to do change management work at more of the enterprise level than from the IT organization where I’ve been.

It’s all working out, friends.

Obsessed.

I have a fairly addictive personality.  Once I’m into something, I am INTO IT.  The flip side, is once I drop something, I am OVER IT.

Things I am INTO right now:

My fireplace

I love it.  I want to make fires all the time.  I read this article on “winterizing” your home and it said that if you build more than 6 wood burning fires in the season you should get the chimney professionally cleaned once a year.  Ummmm, I’m going to build 6 fires by the end of the week.  I am day-firing right now.  That’s right, it’s 3:30, I’ve got a fire going.  I had beginner’s luck big time the first time I lit the fire.  I think the wood was just extra dry because it had been sitting in the fireplace for over a year.  I’m getting the hang of it, and am now aided by actual fireplace tools and not just my grill tongs.  I was thrift store shopping last weekend when I spotted a set of fireplace tools in the kinda shiny brass finish I was looking for to match the current screen and future overall living room design.  Love that I got what I wanted for a fraction of the cost of new ones!  

New to me fireplace tools!

New to me fireplace tools!

But I do not know what this one is supposed to do... Ideas?

But I do not know what this one is supposed to do… Ideas?

I am also looking into buying a half-cord of wood.  This is a phrase that is brand new to me, as is the idea of buying a whole bunch of firewood.  Right now I’m picking up those bundles you see outside of a grocery store or Lowe’s.  That’s going to get pricey, fast, yo.  I didn’t even know how people got firewood.  When I lived in Carbondale I remember passing houses that had “Free firewood” signs.  I’m sure those are around somewhere in Ohio, but I’d have to find them.  And get it back to my house.  So, I googled firewood delivery – and it turns out that’s a thing!  A half-cord is about a pick up truck bed’s worth. That should get me through December…

As obsessed with the fireplace as I am, I did get the good advice to rethink building the mantle over Thanksgiving break.  I have plenty of other little things to do around here (basement organization!  Especially if I want to find the Christmas decorations!) and maybe the mantle can be a January project.  Maybe I can just relax a little.  Maybe I don’t need to buy a miter saw right now.  Maybe I need to do some more research into what a pocket hole is for screwing the mantle together.  I feel good about waiting.

Serial!

If you follow me on FB or Twitter for a minute you’ll see I’m obsessed over this podcast.  And I’m not the only one.  I should qualify that statement by adding I’m not nearly as obsessed as some.  I mean, I’ll read some message boards so I can see what everyone else is saying about the show – but I haven’t FB stalked any of the people or hired my own detectives to do some digging into the case as I’ve heard other super fans have done.  If you haven’t been listening, I cannot encourage you enough to start.  You need to begin with episode one – listening in order is imperative.

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It’s so great.

 

Journaling

You’d think this little corner of the internet would be all I need to air out the crazy thoughts, review the things I like, talk about what I cooked, etc.  Not any more!  I’ve become a little obsessed with all the ways one can journal and record and reflect.  

Of course – there’s here.  This blog has never had much of a point of view – it started as a place for the far away friends to keep up with me and morphed into some other stuff along the way.  Maybe I’ve let it get a little too personal over the years, maybe I could have kept some things to myself.  Maybe I could have kept the blog to recipes and running and home improvement.  Oh well.

As we get to 2015, I decided to pursue a few other journaling options…

One is the Passion Planner.  I’ve used an Erin Condren Planner for the last few years and I like their layout and size.  I like that it’s easy to customize and has room to doodle and make some of  your own lists.  When a friend posted a link to the Passion Planner on Facebook last week, I thought it was all the things that made the Erin Condren planner cool PLUS some journaling space and writing prompts, gratitude space, larger project breakdowns…  The Passion Planner was a Kickstarter campaign last year – the campaign is over – but you can still watch the video about the journal here.  As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted one.  It’s on it’s way here and I’m excited to get started with it.  I’m sure I could have found the space for those prompts in the Erin Condren planner – maybe next year.

Every year, usually about the time I start thinking about Christmas cards, I wonder what books I read and movies I saw that year.  I always think I’ll do a little recap of stuff I loved and put a list on the back of my cards.  Sometimes I can scroll through the blog and remember what I saw or read or listened to (SERIAL!), but mostly that stuff is gone forever.  NOT IN 2015!  I’m getting my stuff together next year.  I recently learned of something called a Smash Book.  It’s referred to as the anti-scrapbook.  A messy (perfect for me), less organized look at a time, vacation, or project.  Get on Pinterest and search Smash Book – you’ll see so many examples.  I thought maybe that would be the fun answer for the places I ate, movies I watched, playlists I was loving, and books I was making everyone read.  It also allows me to keep the artifacts from some of those places.  The blog is great, but I can’t put the physical ticket stub, a receipt, a bookmark or some other small token on it.  I mean, I guess I can take a picture and put the picture in here, but it’s not the same.  I’ve always loved photo albums and kind of miss them.  I know I do stuff, I want to be able to look back on it.  So – I’m going to try this out in 2015.  (Quite frankly, I’ll probably start this  bad boy next weekend with the ticket stub to my first OSU game!)

There you have it.  Things I’m crazy about right now.  Build a fire, listen to Serial while writing you’re little heart out and you can be crazy about all of them too.

“American” Thanksgiving, where pilgrims ate marshmallows

Happy early Thanksgiving!

Dinner was sooo good!  I wrote about all the recipes I was prepping a couple nights ago, and let me tell you the prep work made tonight so easy!  I woke up early this morning to stuff the herb paste into the turkey skin, let it stay wrapped up in the fridge all day, and had hardly any work to do tonight.  My consultant friends showed up, we chatted in the kitchen, they commented on how lovely the dining room looked, and they helped make the fire.  AND, maybe most importantly I can cross off “Make s’mores in a fireplace” off my List of Things to do Before I Die!

This girl loves "dat cat" maybe more than I do. I think she Instagrammed about 3 pictures of him and I saw him on Facebook too.

This girl loves “dat cat” maybe more than I do. I think she Instagrammed about 3 pictures of him and I saw him on Facebook too.

I put CB to work on making fire.  He taught me a much better log placement to start the fire than I had been doing.

I put CB to work on making fire. He taught me a much better log placement to start the fire than I had been doing.

My turkey!  Doing just turkey breasts was awesome and the platter came out lovely.

My turkey! Doing just turkey breasts was awesome and the platter came out lovely.

This picture does not even do these bad boys justice.  The brown butter, hazelnut green beans were delicious!

This picture does not even do these bad boys justice. The brown butter, hazelnut green beans were delicious!

Finished cheesecake - pronounced a hit by all.

Finished cheesecake – pronounced a hit by all.

...and then all had a good night... watching Elf.

…and then all had a good night… watching Elf…

...and making s'mores.

…and making s’mores.

I’m sitting here very happy this evening.  I love a lovely table, delicious food, happy guests, and s’mores.  I’m so fortunate I’ve met this group.  I’m reminded of something I heard at the OD Conference in my Mindfulness in the Organization session.  Dr. Brendel said something along the lines of – Imagine all the things that had to happen to get you in this room.  When you think about how many things had to happen so that this group of people are together in this time and space – it’s really too much to wrap your mind around.  How many choices made, roads not taken, missed connections, dreams chased, hopes dashed… This group of five people from all over the country all in my house enjoying a very comfortable evening – what are the chances?

Good night, dear friends.

 

Blog stats.

I don’t spend much (any) time trying to drive new traffic to this blog.   I know what my average daily traffic is, I know what terms they search for to get here (primarily Whole30, glitter shoes, and Cinderella running costume) and I know what they click on.

Anytime there’s deviation from the norm – I know somehow I’ve hit somewhere else in the Interwebs.  The day  one of my food photos ended up on the San Francisco Wedding Magazine page.  Just a few weeks ago I was getting a load of traffic coming from Facebook.  This is odd because I don’t publish the blog to Facebook.  Turns out the folks at Hot Chicken Takeover had run across the blog (a Google news alert I’m sure led them there) and they were so happy with the reference to Friday Night Lights that they posted the blog post to their facebook page.  I had over 180 views that day.  That’s like, 5x my usual.

Today I noticed that people were linking to my blog from LinkedIn.  I had a small panicked moment.  Please don’t ever have let me put this blog address on my LinkedIn page.  I searched it… no, not there.  How are they getting here?  I got an email then from someone I met at the recent ODN Conference, the one I wrote about here.  She mentioned that she and her colleagues really enjoyed my blog post on the event.  I traced my way back through their LinkedIn profiles until I found out how this was happening…  and it was awesome.

The Fantastic Brit I met at the poster session had run across the blog entry (I assume Google news alerts is again to blame).  And he wrote the following on his LinkedIn page with a link to the blog post…

“People DO remember what you say if you make them feel

I have just returned from an Organisational Development Network Conference in the US. I had a poster presentation sharing my and JCA’s work with the Environment Agency and evidence of how applied EI delivers ‘sticky change’. I really enjoyed meeting great people at this informal event, wine was flowing and aiding mutual learning.

The following blog was posted by an ODN conference member called Sarah who had spent some time talking with me about our work: blog post. Please do check out Sarah’s blog: it’s a great piece on the conference and there is some funny and much appreciated feedback there about me (4th para, though I’m not sure I lay claim to all the occasional swear words in the blog! – in my defence all used to illustrate a point).

My learning? : if you harness the power of emotion (enthusiasm in my case) then people will definitely remember what you say!”

I’m quite glad to know that he knows my enthusiasm for our conversation and his work was sincere and memorable.  I’m glad there was a connection made.

And if you’re new here – Hey!  Don’t mind the crazy, and enjoy the pictures of food.

Being a local

I nearly called this post “Big OH Weekend”, indicating that I spent a weekend full of Ohio fun.  Then I thought that seemed dirty, and quite frankly, misleading.  So, I renamed.  Carry on…

Friday was happy hour at a relatively new place, Cray Eatery & Drinkery.  In the interest of full disclosure, that was the second time I was there last week.  Fair to say I was a fan.  They make these infused whiskeys and vodkas.  They are delicious, and dangerous.  The vanilla bean whiskey is quickly becoming my favorite beverage in town.  I was home relatively early and after three pretty exhausting weeks, I crashed early and didn’t wake up until about 10:30am the next morning.

Saturday afternoon I went on a tour of the Ohio State House and Court House.  One of my new favorite friends in Columbus is a volunteer tour guide there and I wanted to take the opportunity to visit her AND get a Columbus history lesson.  I learned a lot about the building and how Columbus was founded.  It was a well spent hour.  Our capitol building is fine, but our court house is really gorgeous.  Some of the most beautiful lighting fixtures, and back in the day it was the first fully electric building in Ohio.  People came from hundreds of miles to see the lightbulb in action.

From the outside, the capitol building doesn't have a Rotunda, exactly.  It has a cylinder.  From the inside, though, there is a rotunda.  And it's pretty.

From the outside, the capitol building doesn’t have a Rotunda, exactly. It has a cylinder. From the inside, though, there is a rotunda. And it’s pretty.

One of the great light fixtures from the building.

One of the great light fixtures from the building.

My favorite light fixture.  The hall these were in was magnificent and these light posts were perfect.

My favorite light fixture. The hall these were in was magnificent and these light posts were perfect.

I ran a few errands after that, including a visit to a couple consignment stores looking for some holiday decorations.  I didn’t find anything.  I took some colleagues up on an offer to join them at a sports bar for the OSU game.  It was a rowdy group and a great game.  OSU wins!  Go Bucks!

Sunday I headed up to a local state park to go for a hike/walk.  I participated in a trail run at High Banks park last fall and it was the first place that popped into my head when I decided I needed a good long walk.  I want to be serious about this mindfulness business and I find myself better suited to clear my head outside than inside.  I didn’t bring my ipod, no music – just a walk out in the fresh air.

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I took the Overlook Trail (light purple) and added the Wetland Spur for another .8 mile (dark purple).  It was a great morning, nice walk, and great for being present and in the moment.  Next time I’ll do Dripping Rock Trail.

I took the road less traveled by...

I took the road less traveled by…

I went from the hike to the grocery store.  I’m hosting my consultant friends for a Thanksgiving dinner party this Tuesday.  I spent this morning building the menu and making the monster grocery list that goes along with that.  On my trip to Des Moines, IA last week I bought three food magazines and wanted to try all new to me Thanksgiving recipes.  I warned the team they were a guinea pig group.  They have no problem with this.  I wanted to do as much prep as possible tonight and tomorrow night so I can make Thanksgiving happen after work.  I took a few shortcuts, but not that many.  Here’s the menu:

Herb Roasted Turkey Breasts courtesy of Rachel Ray

This is one of the shortcuts I’ll be taking – not doing a full turkey, but doing boneless (but skin on) turkey breasts.  They’ll cook faster.  I bought a few turkey legs to roast as well.  I’ll prep them tomorrow night and have them ready to pop in the oven.

Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Kale Pesto courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens magazine

I made these tonight.  I didn’t combine them yet.  The potatoes are out of this world.  I don’t usually peel my potatoes for mashed potatoes.  But since I was trying new to me recipes, I followed instructions.  I had a test bite (or four).  These potatoes are amazing.  They’re chilling in the fridge and I’ll just warm them up.  I did halve this recipe.

Pesto prep!

Pesto prep!

Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Cherries and Chestnuts courtesy of Rachel Ray Magazine

Stepping way outside my comfort zone with this recipe.  I don’t typically use cornbread in my stuffing.  Or sausage, for that matter.  In my life I’ve never had a chestnut.  I made this tonight and it’s all ready, just needs to be baked.  My test bites lead me to believe it is also going to be awesome.  My shortcut was buying ready made cornbread stuffing mix.  I did not have it in me to bake cornbread, cut it up, dry it out, toast it up… Just no.  I mean, I like this group and all, but no.

Stuffing prep!

Stuffing prep!

Stirring in the dried cherries and lots of fresh herbs.

Stirring in the dried cherries and lots of fresh herbs.

Brown Butter Haricots Vert courtesy of Food Network Magazine

I will do anything to avoid the dreaded green bean casserole at Thanksgiving.  I’ll trim these up tomorrow, but do most of the work for these Tuesday.

Pear-Gingersnap Cheesecake courtesy of Food Network Magazine

I’m breaking the pumpkin mold!  There are so many delicious pumpkin recipes, and I was tempted to do a pumpkin cheesecake, but I’ve done one of those before.  Another ingredient I’ve never bought before is molasses.  Aaaaaand… I’m not sure I’d ever need to again.  Molasses has a very distinct taste, and I don’t know that I love it.  I mean, I think this cheesecake is going to be fine, but I have supplemental dessert planned as well – a S’mores bar.  I’ll post more about that Tuesday night.  Spoiler Alert… it does mean crossing something off The List!  

Cheesecake prep!

Cheesecake prep!

Bosc pears are so pretty.

Bosc pears are so pretty.

Pre-baked cheesecake.  My pear placement wasn't perfect.  A few fell off my fork before I was ready for them to be placed.

Pre-baked cheesecake. My pear placement wasn’t perfect. A few fell off my fork before I was ready for them to be placed.

Post baked.  I'll drizzle on a bit more of the molasses syrup right before serving.  Then it will look more like the picture.  I like when my food looks like the picture.

Post baked. I’ll drizzle on a bit more of the molasses syrup right before serving. Then it will look more like the picture. I like when my food looks like the picture.

My reward for knocking out all that prep work tonight was lighting another fire!  Mmmm, Sunday night fires are totally going to become a thing.  I should look into chopping down the mostly dead tree in my backyard so I get my own firewood supply.  Continuing to buy it is going to get pricey.  I’m not the only fan of the fire:

Quinn looks forward to them more than me.

Quinn looks forward to them more than me.

It was wonderful to spend a weekend here.  I have a less busy week coming up and I’m happy about that too.  The temperature is supposed to drop, so I see more fires in my future!  Mmm, so quickly becoming the best part of my house.

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