31 December, 2008

Hazy Crazy Holidays of Summer

Christmas and Hanukkah have passed us by, expanded waistlines and shredded piles of spent gift wrap have been left in their wake. Tonight, the eve of the new year, will conclude my first holiday season in the land down under.

It's been a busy season, jam packed with home project mania and brief forays into the real world for family dinners and shopping trips, but all went beautifully well, in spite of the 33 degree (that's 90+ Fahrenheit) temperatures. Even our garden, chocked full of tender seedlings, weathered the miniature heatwave well. We were so pleased!

Christmas and Boxing Day, themselves, were delightful and filled with more food than anyone should eat in a lifetime. The City Mouse will have to resume her health regime in earnest, post-renovations, to recapture a smidge of lost weight gained over the festivals of food. We did have one adorable companion over Christmas lunch in the form of a fuzzy little Koala, curled up in the cradle of a gum tree just a few steps from our outdoor locale. It was a beautiful sight.

The barrage of home improvements still dominates our every waking moment, but the end is drawing near. Today we pick up a handy-dandy floor sander and begin the process of refinishing our floors. It's daunting, as there are layers of thick, black goo across some of the flooring, but we hold faith that all will glow a beautiful, piny hue when we are done. This new phase of our mad dash toward increased home value means that we will be taking full advantage of the outdoors, this week, with plans to camp out Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, allowing our floors to dry.

Some of the first real harvest has come in from the garden, lending itself to our delicious dinner of green beans and potatoes cooked with ham hock. How else could one serve such a southern treat than with sweet honey cornbread and big glasses of minted iced tea? It was delightful!

During our backyard camp fest, we intend to use up some of the early tomatoes, a few more beans, and hopefully a green pepper or two. I think what I'm looking forward to, most of all, is a camp breakfast of stewed, fresh apricots from our tree. One sunset colored beauty found its way into yesterday's snack time and the harvest promises to be sweetly perfect.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the thoughtful array of gifts we received, this fine holiday, with American treats sent from home, fabulous project books for the hubby and a Ball Home Preserving superbook for yours truly. There were vacuums and shoes, gift cards, seedlings, and bakeware, plus some lovely donations toward our future rainwater tank.

Our own gifts to the relatives were made on a shoestring, consisting mostly of photographs the hubby and I have taken over the last year, packaged for friends and family in envelopes decorated with scrapbooking supplies and sent with much love. Hopefully next year we will be enjoying our holiday in cooler American climes, instead of taking a dip in the pool. Though a good swim is never a bad thing!

Perhaps the biggest gift has come wrapped in another gift all its own. Our present to each other was, of course, our beautiful pup, Laney. But she too had a bit of giving to do and just three weeks after her adoption, she decided to let us in on a bit of a secret. She's pregnant! Yep, that's right. We adopted ourselves a pregnant dog. We estimate her to be in week seven with two to go until these new little critters join our family. We will be keeping one pup and giving the rest away. An inconvenient gift, but one we are growing to love.

For now, we are off for a day of pulling up carpets and sanding down floors. It will be several days before we have net access again, and "vacation" begins January 6th. From that date on, this suburban plotter will be gleefully returning to frequent updates and big news of harvests and kitchen doings. Until then, be well and happy and enjoy your New Year!


Margo said...

Oooh honey corn bread sounds divine - could you post the recipe?

Margo said...

PS - happy new year!

Suzan said...

How did the floor sanding go? There's a real skill to that endeavor. Love the Koala - do they really live off eucalyptus leaves?

Kelly, I'm going have to try your lamb dish - it looks divine.

Maggie ~:) said...

Puppies!!!!!!!! It's been so long since I've had puppies. I turned in my puppy card for birthing kittens, haha. I wish you all a safe and healthy pregnancy and birthing day and even more so I wish you loving happy homes for the litter.

RazorFamilyFarms.com said...

What is it about honey cornbread? Yum!

I love it.

I served cheddar jalapeno cornbread with Tennessee white chili just the night before last to my brood.

Lots of love,

Kelly the City Mouse said...

Margo: Yes ma'am! Coming soon :)

Suzan: It went pretty well. We ran into some snags, which I'll talk about soon hehe. Ahhh the fun of home improvement. And yep! Koalas eat eucalyptus and sleep all day/night long, and I hear they're really mean, but they sure are cute! How'd the lamb recipe go?

Mags: They're getting so huge! They can walk pretty well on their own now. So many dogs!

Lacy: I think it'll be a long time before I make cornbread again. The weather here has been insane! I could practically bake without an oven, just sticking stuff outside.