Snow and more snow


This is the view into my little back garden. Quite a bit different than the banner photo on my blog. You can see the coop absolutely buried in snow in the background. The poor hens have barely seen the light of day in the last few weeks. Actually we haven’t let them into the larger run since a heavy rain took down the netting covering it. And yet they are starting to give us an egg here and there.

NYC public schools are open today. It makes me laugh to think of how readily our school system in Maryland closed when I was a kid. Being so close to DC, we often had diplomat’s children at our school. I remember one girl asking my friend how you found out if school was closed. My friend told her that if you put your thumb into the snow and it covered your fingernail, then school would be closed. Maybe not the most helpful answer, but it was pretty accurate. I guess New Yorkers are tougher because Lindsay had to trudge off to school on what should really be a sledding day.

I was joking with Lindsay yesterday as we were walking in the cold. I said that on the first few days of spring, New Yorkers are going to be euphoric. I said that we might see people spontaneously burst into song and start dancing with one another in the streets. It’s kind of a nice image don’t you think?

Getting ready for the weekend

This weekend we have decided to do something very frightening. We are hosting 4 8-year old girls for a slumber party. Our daughter will make the 5th. She’s turning 9 on tuesday and rather than have a big party at an ice rink, or other venue, we scaled waaay back this year. Except now I’m scared. Will these girls sleep? Will they let me sleep? Will they know (or care) how mean I get when I’m tired?? Will I be able to make pancakes on 2 hours of sleep?

And can someone answer me why after vacuuming for an hour, the second I turned off the vacuum, I saw half a dozen pine needles on the floor? Where do they multiply and why does it seem to take half the year to be finally rid of them?

So wish me luck. The girls will have pizza, decorate cupcakes, put on mud masks, dance their brains out and watch a movie. And hopefully sleep…

Being Frugal vs. Hoarding?

When does being frugal turn into hoarding? I keep coming back to this question lately.

Both my husband and I tend towards being pack rats. I think it’s my European roots, but I hate throwing perfectly good things away. It just seems so wasteful. We both like to hang on to things that we think may be of use down the road. We don’t have drawers of used nails, or twist-ties, but things get crowded quickly when you live in a small space.

We have a technique we use to get rid of “perfectly good” junk. We hang it on the fence outside our apartment building and usually within minutes it is taken. It makes me feel good that that item isn’t being carted off to a landfill. But we still have clutter. We don’t have stacks of newspapers piled up on our floor, but we do keep a section to use to start our bbq. I don’t have mountains of craft supplies, but I usually have what I need to start a project on a whim. I am slowly trying to weed out books we haven’t read in years, but I like to hang onto my reference books (canning, chicken keeping, cooking, nature guides, etc.)

I can’t figure out how to live with less stuff without throwing things out and then having to re-buy them later. Certainly the obvious answer is to not buy things later. Learn to live with less stuff. See The Story of Stuff, which is a great video. Having a kid adds to this stuff exponentially. My daughter is constantly being given gift bags at parties and school, which are filled with cheap plastic toys. This stuff makes my skin crawl because it is fodder for landfills. Zerowastehome’s blog details how she has taught her children to refuse these things. I admire her, but I’m not quite there yet.

I know I hang on to things for sentimental reasons as well, but  I think that’s what makes a house a home. Personal items that mean something to you. A friend of mine who has a very uncluttered home once said to me that she would come here to help me de-clutter. She would hold something of mine up, I would tell her the story about it, and then she would throw it away.

And, honestly I know I’m not a hoarder. I had a relative who was and it goes far, far beyond having a messy or cluttered home. It’s just in reading about the approaches psychologists use to help change the behavior of hoarders that I see similarities:

  • Make more reasonable judgments when deciding if an object is worthy of keeping or not.
  • Learn how to make quick decisions on whether to keep an object or toss it.
  • Practice discarding items while sorting through the intense emotions they trigger.
I guess my dilemma is how to keep this stuff from making its way into my home in the first place (Just yesterday I filled a giant recycling bag of paper – mail and school papers). And how can I get rid of it in a way that doesn’t lead it straight to a landfill? And am I a “normal” person who just lives in a tiny space without much storage? Or would I just fill my attic and basement with stuff if I had an attic and basement?
What’s a girl to do?


Greenwood Cemetery

Contrary to what you might think, Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn is a lovely place to spend a fall afternoon. We decided to go there this weekend to see if we could find any hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. These mushrooms grow under oak trees in the fall, and I thought there would be many old oaks there. I was right, but the place offered so much more.

We saw the fabled monk parrots when we first arrived. Their story is that escaped from a container at Kennedy airport and have taken up residence at Greenwood. You can see photos of them here.

We actually saw very few mushrooms considering the vast quantities of rain we’ve had. There were a few hen-of-the-woods, but they were old and woody and uprooted. I think the groundskeepers are too efficient to let big mushrooms grow there. But the day was beautiful and it was like walking in a lovely park.

Winter Fun part 1

If you live in most of the US, you will probably be surrounded by snow. It’s easy to grumble about how hard commuting, parking, etc. is. I am guilty of it as well. Here’s a video a friend of mine made with his kids. They live in Minnesota and when we spoke to him, the temperature was -27F. And, no, that’s not with windchill factored in. Kind of puts whining about 18F in perspective, eh? We tried it on one of our coldest days and it mostly worked. Take a peek.

His daughter says it’s steam, but I’m pretty sure they made snow.

Cold Weather Fun from Martha Lazar on Vimeo.