Tuesday, January 27, 2015


It's been a while since I last posted. I drafted several blog posts since then, but none actually made it to print. I've just been overwhelmed with things, capped off a couple weeks ago with the sudden and unexpected death of one of our cats, Teddy.
He loved this chenille throw I knitted out of extra yarn.

I'm still having some difficulty these days, it will take a while to get used to Teddy not being here when I come home. But to try and cope, I've been thinking about all the things I can do that make me feel a little better.

Nature exploration is a big comfort to me. Even just watching birds from my window can help lift my spirits a bit. This month I've had a really exciting new visitor too: a Pine Warbler has been visiting my suet feeders almost daily. I live in a suburban neighborhood with not a lot of tree cover, so we don't usually get warblers of any kind except occasional stopovers during migration. It's thrilling to me to host a warbler for the winter, and to know that I'm directly helping it survive the cold and the snow. I get almost giddy each time I look out the window and see it in my dogwood tree or on the suet cage. I am such a bird nerd! 

Pine Warbler on January 6, 2015

Another activity I like to do is cooking. I enjoy delicious food just for its own sake, but also I particularly like to feel that I'm nurturing my husband and myself with good healthy food. I don't have a lot of spare time or energy, so I use the slow cooker at least once a week.

Yesterday I made a scrumptious batch of Chicken Tikka Masala, based on this recipe: http://www.foodiewithfamily.com/slow-cooker-chicken-tikka-masala/. It's not a "dump and go" kind of recipe, you have to brown the chicken, then saute the onions, and finally simmer some crushed tomatoes in the pan to sort of deglaze all the browned bits, before finally adding it all to your slow cooker. But it is SO GOOD! If you like Indian food I highly recommend this recipe, the prep work is totally worth it. I would not be embarrassed to serve this to my snobbiest of foodie friends. It makes a lot too, so for just the two of us we have several dinners' worth from the single recipe. Yum!

And finally, it is almost time to start seeds for my garden! Growing lovely veggies always makes me feel good about life. I like knowing that I'm nurturing my family with the fresh food, and am nurturing the Earth at the same time by amending the soil, using organic gardening techniques, and incorporating wildlife into my garden plans. (See the posts I've made about Black Swallowtail caterpillars in my dill, of course!)

My garden last June. I kind of let the dill volunteers take over that summer; this year I hope to do better at controlling them. Otherwise they'll shade out the other veggies again.

This year I decided to branch out from my usual seed sources, so I've been having a lot of fun looking at new-to-me catalogs. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is a fun one that focuses on seeds for the southeast and mid-Atlantic US. For those of you in the northeast, Fedco Seeds is based in Maine and focuses on varieties of veggies that grow well there. Both of these catalogs include lots of information about how well a variety would do in your area: the soil conditions you likely have, the length and quality of your growing season, that kind of thing. Very helpful! They also both support small growers as their seed sources, which is nice if you'd like to help support independent farmers. Check them out!

So how do you cope with a difficult time in your life? What activities do you do that make you feel better? I'd like to hear your suggestions in the comments below. For me it seems like creative and nurturing kinds of activities help the most. I'll try to post again soon about some of the crafts I enjoy, along the same lines.

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