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Plastic shopping bags. You can accumulate them like mad if you have a family and do any amount of shopping. While you can recycle them at the store for re-use or reuse them yourself for trash can liners on wastebaskets or such, they do accumulate quickly, don’t they?

I always used to smirk at the sign planted just outside the automatic doors at Hannafords – “Did you remember your reusable bags?” I have joked with the cashiers that the sign, while loaded with good intentions, didn’t help walking into the store at all since if I forgot my bags, they were a good 12 miles away at home. That sign, I have said more than once, needs to be in my driveway.

I try to use my resusable shopping bags every time I go grocery shopping. In fact, I often say that I feel like a tourist if I forget them because it becomes very apparent to me, in the store that everyone else who isn’t from away on vacation, has their bags.

Pretty soon, here in Vermont we may join California, Florida, Arizona and many hundreds of other towns and cities across the country in banning the plastic disposable shopping bag from our stores. H.105 is a bill that has been introduced here in Vermont to ban plastic disposable shopping bags. The bill would protect small businesses and not apply to compostable bags or recycled plastic bags.

I remember the first reusable grocery bags I found years and years ago when I still lived in New Jersey. Chico Bags. They were very nice bags that could fold up and be put right in your purse or glove compartment or pocket. They could even attach to your car key ring. They came in a variety of colors, but all the same shape. osrd-3

Now, Chico Bags have bags on their site in every style, size and color. In fact, most every store you walk into, be it grocery, clothing or hardware, has its own type of reusable bag for sale. Bags are made from varying materials for strength and durability.

Do you use reusable shopping bags? Do you need that Hannafords’ reminder sign in your yard? What’s your favorite bag?

img_4887So here’s a question. Do you push in your chair when you get up from the table?

Does the type of table you are getting up from determine whether or not you return the chair to its position tucked under the table?

Do you even have any idea what you do or don’t do with your chair when you get up from the table?

Do you push in your chair when you leave a conference room?

I have been observing. In my heart, I think I am a true people watcher.

Lately, I have been noticing people and their chairs. Weird, I know, but I notice that it is about evenly split, whether one pushes in one’s chair when they leave a table or not. This got me to thinking about the etiquette of pushing in one’s chair and if there was even such a thing.

img_5364I was raised to push my chair in after I got up from the table. Maybe part of it was that our kitchen was also our dining room and there wasn’t much room to spare, so pushing in your chair when you got up was not only polite, but it made sense. With our house, our family pushes in chairs when they get up from the table. The boys were taught that was the proper way to do things, at least at home, although I have personally observed them pushing in their chairs when we are out at dinner. Proud mama moments, they are truly the little things – but I digress. 🙂

I notice that not everyone pushes in his or her chair. In fact, a lot of people don’t push in their chairs. It can be annoying when you get up or try to get up from the table at a restaurant and bump into the chair behind you that wasn’t pushed into the table. At home, it is frustrating when I have to go around and push in chairs if someone doesn’t push in their chair when they get up, things look off, could be OCD on my part, but hey, it’s my house and I like my damn chairs pushed into the table. 😉

So, the question remains, what is the proper etiquette? According to Emily Post, the mother of all things “etiquette”, it is basic table manners to push in one’s chair when one leaves the table. It’s so basic in fact, that it is in categorized in her 1922 etiquette book under the category “The Kindergarten of Etiquette”. Evidently, according to Ms. Post’s rules, a child should not even be allowed to dine at the adult dinner table until the child learns how to pull out and push in his or her chair (along with other basic table manners).

As I investigated even further, modern manners, almost 100 years later, still expect that when you get up from the table, you push in your chair, even if you are just leaving to use the restroom! In fact, just because you are eating your meal at McDonalds and not some fancy five star restaurant doesn’t excuse you from pushing in your chair. You are even expected to push in your chair when you get up from a conference room table at a business meeting. The prevailing thought is that it is just plain ol’ polite and helps to prevent someone else from bumping into or falling over your chair.

Therefore, it appears that we all may have a bit of work to do in the chair pushing in department. Next time you are out and about, be a bit of a people watcher and take notice. Let me know what you find to be the prevailing trend. I’m truly curious.

 

 

Friends and family often comment that we are lucky to live here. We absolutely are. We are blessed with beautiful views, good friends, wonderful neighbors, good cross country skiing and great fresh air. But we are also stuck with nights like tonight. We decided to head out to a local place for a quick bite. It was not late, but it also wasn’t early. We got to the spot and it was packed. Of course what did we expect? Friday night during ski season in the land of skiing, right in the path of those coming from out of state. It was disappointing to both of us and reminded us that there is a downside that is not always readily apparent to those that come to visit.

Enough of the whining. Now, the upside. We headed home grabbed some frozen beer battered haddock from the Wallingford Locker, made some rice pilaf from scratch with lots of garlic and parsley and had a delicious but quiet dinner at home. When you are in the mood to go out and socialize, as my husband who doesn’t get out all week with work, was – it was disappointing. But we made the best of the situation. And the other upside, was the delicious blueberry turnovers for dessert. Ssshhhh.  Those are the same turnovers I am bringing in the morning for my school board retreat. 🙂fullsizeoutput_6ad4fullsizeoutput_6ad5

Kerplunk – To fall with a sound like that of a heavy object falling into water.

Wednesday was not a good day. Didn’t start off so terribly, I woke up and that’s a positive right there. No, the problems started when I put my phone in my back pant pocket in order to carry my basket of laundry downstairs first thing in the morning. Since I never put my phone in my back pocket, I forgot that it was there and went about my business. Until a short time later when I walked into the bathroom and heard that sound – kerplunk. As the definition states, it is sound of a heavy object falling into water — or in my case, the sound that your Iphone makes when it falls into the toilet and sinks immediately to the bottom of the toilet bowl. At first, the sound did not register, what could have fallen into the toilet? Then with horror I realized it was my phone. There was cussing and screaming and crying because you see, my phone is not up for a new phone until much later this year and a wet phone is not a good thing. Not at all.

I immediately grabbed the phone out of the toilet and now the flash was on and the phone wouldn’t shut off and …did I mention I was crying?… gave it to my husband who thought I must have been suffering some medical emergency when I came screaming and crying out of the bathroom. Into the bag of rice it went, I grabbed my computer and texted my eldest son, who deals with these sort of phone emergencies in his daily work. In compliance with his instructions out of the bag of rice it came. It was taken apart and the battery was disconnected so no further damage could occur. It was left open to dry for 4-6 hours as directed by the kid into whose mouth I put spoonful upon spoonful of rice cereal 21 years ago.

And we waited. And I also decided, after I ripped the molding off the door trying to bring the wood cart in with firewood later that morning, that I should refrain from doing anything further to endanger myself or those around me. So, I waited some more, not doing much of anything, except maybe still crying and chastising myself for being utterly stupid.

Hours later, with eldest son on call as the phone was reconnected, we learned it wasn’t completely dead, but sadly wounded. I then contacted his work, Wires Computing‘s website and opened a ticket for a repair since he was in Burlington and I was here and my phone desperately needed his expertise two hours away. With an interesting role reversal, he calmly assured me that he sees more of this type of thing than I knew and I was evidently one of the eleven or twelve other people (mostly women) who have their phones fall out of their pockets and into toilets on a weekly basis – and who also seek his help.

My phone was mailed the next day as directed, received the following day and repaired that same day by my dear, sweet, very talented son. It was shipped out to me this morning and if all goes well, I should have it by Monday.

While I am always proud of the boys, I am particularly proud of the guy who was able to save his mom (and her phone). He is going to school for engineering and graduating this May, but he works doing micro soldering (which is soldering done under a microscope on electronics) repairing phones, computers and other electronic devices that are mailed to them from all over the world not working, with water damage, with cracked screens, etc. If you are in need of this service, as I was, I would encourage you to check out their website. The service was quick, can be done from anywhere (in the world, evidently as he said he has phone from Europe, South America and the Middle East right now he is working on) and there is little hassle. You receive emailed updates of the status of your repair and an email when it is finished, your invoice is ready to be paid and your phone is on its way back to you. The final email was my particular favorite and I’m sure you can figure out why.  🙂

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We still haven’t figured out if that was just because it was my phone or whether that message accompanies every repair he does.

 

img_5127I enjoy cooking. Most of the time, I’m good at it too. I like the creative outlet, I enjoy the sensory aspects of cooking – cutting, chopping, slicing – the repetitive actions;  all good ways to meditate and be mindful of what you are doing and bring yourself a sense of peace. It’s also just the opposite, a great way to forget what may be bothering you by putting all your energy into pounding chicken breasts for a recipe or hand kneading dough for a loaf of bread.

img_4526If I had the opportunity to start another career, I think that it would be food related in some aspect. I don’t know that I have the desire to train to become a professional chef and work in a restaurant with all that stress and pressure involved. I don’t have those ideas of grandeur; maybe I’d just be a traveling personal chef. Simply me and the food in a kitchen, enjoying the process, reveling in the experience of cooking for other people to enjoy.  The satisfaction of knowing that somewhere in the process of doing what I am enjoying, I am making someone’s life a little easier and a little tastier.

The only problem with having a cooking or baking as a hobby is that there has to be someone there to eat what is prepared and created. These days, my biggest cooking fans are not living at home, therefore there is little reason to cook. It is sad. Akin to the skier with no snow or the swimmer with no water. The hobby cannot be practiced without the recipient.

Now I relish the small opportunities that present themselves- cooking dinner with friends, evenings the two of us want a home cooked meal, the nights I am home to cook such a meal.

Today, we were on our way into Ludlow to run an errand and came upon the Mount Holly Moose once again.  We have seen her many times in the past months, sometimes with an out of town guest which really made their day. This time, she was laying down in someone’s yard just relaxing. So, with good camera in hand, here are some of the pictures. She looks totally unfazed by the humans on the side of the road that were gawking at her and taking pictures. After all, not many moose posing for cameras. A few years ago, we had a couple young moose that would wander through our neighborhood, but we haven’t seen any that close around our house in years.

There is concern that the moose is ill and that is the reason for her lack of concern for cars and people. There is talk that the moose may ultimately have to be euthanized. Hopefully, that is not the case.

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jpeg-image-6e4dc5a1c5ca-1Tom’s grandmother used to make chocolate pudding for us. I remember the first time I had it, it was different. It had nuts in it. Turns out that it was My-T-Fine pudding with nuts. Tiny little chopped nuts inside chocolate pudding. In the years since, I had found it a few times and made it, bringing back sweet (no pun intended) memories of a special lady. Then we couldn’t find it. I am not even sure that it is even made anymore.

This afternoon, we set about to rectify that and make our own version.

First, I made the chocolate pudding with some delicious dutch process cocoa we nabbed down at the Brattleboro Co-op when we were down there last night for dinner after a closing I had in the area. Then, while the pudding was cooking, I chopped up slivered almonds into tiny pieces and added them to the cooked pudding. jpeg-image-6e4dc5a1c5ca-7

The pudding went into the fridge and we had it for dessert just a little while ago. It was delicious.

Pudding recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 c. dutch process cocoa
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 T. butter (unsalted)
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

Mix the first four ingredients together in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the 4 cups of milk (we used Lactaid skim milk so my husband could enjoy it with any intestinal issues).

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a boil. Then stir constantly for two minutes more.

Remove from heat and add 2 T. butter (I used unsalted) and 2 t. vanilla extract.

Then I stirred in the chopped almonds, about 1/2 cup’s worth.

Put them into the fridge for at least two hours to set and form that great chocolate pudding “skin”.

This made six ramekins of pudding.

 

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Photo credit: Alamay

This is the Dummerston covered bridge. I drove over it tonight on my way to a closing. It was just about 5 p.m. and this bridge was the perfect example of Vermont manners. It is a one lane bridge. There is no traffic light, no yield signs, no traffic cop. Just a sign that says one lane bridge. For those of you who have never visited Vermont (really?, who are you?) it is a covered bridge that only one car can travel on in one direction at a time. The perfect example of taking your time. Not rushing. The antithesis of everything New Jersey highway.

On the other side of this bridge is a road which has traffic coming into the bridge from two directions, north and south. Therefore, on that side of the bridge, the traffic from both directions needs to stop, take turns alternating with each other and with the traffic turning from Route 30.

The important thing is …no one is going anywhere fast. This is no Route 4 or Route 17 merge in Paramus, New Jersey during rush hour where everyone is pushing, vying to get in front of the car next to them that is merging onto the roadway with them, fighting, inching to be one car length ahead to go …well, nowhere fast if you’ve ever been in New Jersey traffic at rush hour.

Here, on this bridge, everyone stops and takes their time. It is only one lane and one at a time each car alternates going over the bridge. No one while we were there tried to sneak behind the car already proceeding, over the bridge to get through quickly, all the drivers alternated, each waiting their turn. Miraculously, we still all got where we were headed. There was no cussing, no middle fingers raised, no road rage, no one trying to cut anyone off.

Vermont manners. Yet another reason why I love it here.

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Woot! Woot! I just got an email from the Sourdough Project that they want to examine and analyze my sourdough starter! For anyone who has no idea what the heck I am talking about, The Sourdough Project is a research project where they are analyzing samples of various sourdough starters from all over the world to determine their similarities, differences and to compile sourdough DNA.

Per their website explaining who’s involved:

This project is a broad collaboration involving experts in the evolution of food microorganisms (Ben Wolfe, Tufts University), the ecology of microbes (Tad Fukami, Stanford/Natural History Museum of Denmark), human evolution (Peter C. Kjærgaard, Natural History Museum of Denmark), the ecology of life in homes (Rob Dunn, Natural History Museum of Denmark/NC State University), the interface of microbial cultures and art (Anne Madden, NC State University) among others.

If you want to learn more about this project, other than from my ranting here, there’s a great article on NPR that I’ve written about previously.

 

img_5108It is a very quiet house here at the T’s. The boys are all back to school and our company over the holiday weekend is gone. While this is the beginning of the second semester of school for the boys, it is the beginning of Empty Nest Part II here at home. Empty Nest Blues….when it hasn’t quite sunk in yet that they are gone again.

In thinking about it, the dog and I have a great deal in common at this point in time. While sitting here in the living room by the wood stove, typing away, I half expect a kid to come sauntering in. No such luck but at every errant noise, both the dog and I look to the doorway expectantly, both with similar expressions of hope in our eyes. Both of us realize almost simultaneously – no, that was just a noise, not a boy. We probably have the same disappointment float momentarily over our faces. We then both turn to Tom to entertain us and make us forget that there was no boy at the doorway.

Sad, but true. I have been reduced to equating myself with the dog. At least when it comes to the first few days after everyone has left. My goals for the second semester is to take my dog companion and get out there and soak in some Vitamin D on a daily basis. A little (okay, any) snow to make it a little more appealable (and ski-able) would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

So here’s something fun. Betcha had no idea, right? Today, is International Kiss A Ginger Day.

Go, grab your favorite ginger and give them a kiss! With their permission of course.

Evidently, this holiday has existed for about 7 years. It was started seven years ago as a counter on Facebook to the Kick a Ginger campaign. Kicking Gingers is not so nice and should not be condoned, what did the poor ginger folk ever do to you?

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Along these same lines, this guy called Tristan Rogers has set out to map all the redheads in the world. His project Mapping the World of Redheads can be found here.

To finish off today’s post about our ginger folk, here are some interesting ginger facts from USA Today:

  • The highest concentration of redheads is in Scotland (13%) followed by Ireland (10%). Worldwide, only 2% of people have red hair.
  • People with red hair are likely more sensitive to pain. This is because the gene mutation (MC1R) that causes red hair is on the same gene linked to pain receptors. It also means redheads usually need more anesthesia for dental and medical procedures.
  • Having red hair isn’t the only thing that makes some redheads unique. They are also more likely to be left handed. Both characteristics come from recessive genes, which like to come in pairs.
  • Redheads probably won’t go grey. That’s because the pigment just fades over time. So they will probably go blonde and even white, but not grey.
  • Rumor says Hitler banned marriage between redheads. Apparently he thought it would lead to “deviant offspring.”
  • Redheads most commonly have brown eyes. The least common eye color: blue.
  • Bees have been proven to be more attracted to redheads.
  • Being a redheaded man may have health benefits. A study published by the British Journal of Cancer suggested that men with red hair are 54% less likely to develop prostate cancer than their brown and blonde-haired counterparts.
  • Redheads actually have less hair than most other people. On average they only have 90,000 strands of hair while blonds, for example, have 140,000. However, red hair is typically thicker so it still looks just as full.

A couple years ago, Tom went out and bought himself a fat tire bike when his knee was acting up. The orthopedist’s advice was to keep his knee moving without jarring it too much and causing further damage. He suggested biking. Tom did his research and while we both have mountain bikes, they are probably as old (if not older) than the wedding anniversary we just celebrated. He wanted a new bike and the idea of a fat tire bike intrigued him. It would give him the ability to have a little more four season biking opportunity. When he showed up with his new bike that looked quite odd at the time, I really didn’t quite get it. We had mountain bikes, which could go almost anywhere, why fat tires? He seems to enjoy it, and he can go places (like the beach) where my little old mountain bike just can’t handle because of its fat tires. But alas, fat tires on their own can get you a lot of places but they still don’t work well when there is ice and snow on the ground. So, he has lusted after studded tires for his fat bike for a while. Honestly, we couldn’t justify the expense of another set of tires for a bike, when there were trucks that needed tires and the costs could actually be somewhat similar on a per tire basis.

When we were up in Stowe last weekend, we came across a fat tire bike convention/gathering of sorts that we decided to stop at and take a walk around. The place where he bought his bike, up in Burlington, Old Spokes Home (don’t you love that name?) had a tent with some cool bikes and accessories. Lo and behold they had some studded tires at a great price. I treated my sweetie to an early birthday present.

The next day, after doing some research, he decided to give a try to change over the tires himself. A few hours which included a complete clean up of the bike and reassembly and  the studded tires were on. He took it for a test drive on our icy roads and had nothing but good things to say about the studded tires. I think that this will make the snow/ice riding much more pleasurable and falls due to the bike slipping and sliding, less likely to happen.

If you are a fat tire biker and are debating the studded tires, I can say that they work, I’ve seen it up close.

 

 

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