We have been enjoying a pretty relaxed holiday this year. Only our younger daughter, Cadence, was home, so we kept our celebrations small and simple. My Christmas present was this flashy pair of muck boots (Bogs brand), all the more cute with Zinny lying next to them. I LOVE these boots --they are comfy, easy to slip on, and so warm, but I have still been wearing my decrepit old Muck boots to the barn because I can't bear to get these pretty boots all stinky and disgusting yet.
The crazy entry rug? It is a carpet scrap from a downtown hotel that was installing new carpeting -- I got permission to dumpster-dive for it. It is large enough to cover our entire entry floor, collect all the snowy, melting boots and shoes that enter our house and protect the wood floors from tracking.
Zinny is growing tall and lanky and becoming such a good dog. I was getting a bit frustrated with house-training, mainly because I would get absorbed in a project and not realize she was indicating she needed to go out. Finally, I hung a bell on the door handle and every time I took her out to potty I made her paw ring the bell before opening the door. It only took one day for her to master the concept, and now she rings the bell to go out and hasn't had an accident since. Sometimes she jingles the bell to let us know a cat wants to come in, too. She is a genius!
I found some hay to get me through another month of cow-feeding. Feeding cows is rather stressful and very expensive this year. Here is Jitter with a dusting of snow, looking sort of like a Christmas cookie.
Yesterday was my birthday and we invited a bunch of friends over last night for snacks and wine, an annual tradition. I hadn't done much outdoor decorating, but I saw this is idea for ice luminaries on Pinterest and it was so cold out I was inspired to make some. I filled a 5-gallon bucket halfway with water and suspended an ice cream bucket inside (with something heavy inside to keep it from floating up, hung from a broom handle spanning the top of the 5-gallon bucket.) Then I placed greenery trimmings and cranberries in the water around the edge and set the bucket out to freeze. After it was frozen I ran hot water over the bucket and the ice slid out. The bottom hadn't frozen solid yet, but that was perfect because it made a cavity to put the candle inside. The luminaries are really pretty lit up at night - I will try to remember to take a photo of them in action.
Rog made me a wonderful birthday cake using one of my Pinterest recipes - lemon cake with raspberry layers, buttercream frosting and coconut. (It was delicious, but next time we would try a less buttery frosting.) I must confess, I had a piece of this cake for breakfast today.
Thanks to having a deadline, I finished a painting for the January exhibit at Crossings, "Just Figures." My number one NewYears resolution will commit to lots more art-making.
Rog is out roof-raking the solar panels as I write this.
One unintended consequence of the new aquaponics greenhouse is that it makes it much more difficult to reach the panels on the west end of the barn with the roof rake.
Fortunately, as soon as a bit of snow is cleared away, the panels heat up and the rest of the snow slides off very soon.
We are at our two year anniversary of installing the solar panels, so Rog had me photograph the inverter to document the amount of power they have produced: 2.01 megawatts to date! We were pleasantly surprised because last summer there was a malfunction with the inverter and it had to be sent to the manufacturer for repair. We were unable to produce energy while the inverter was gone for three weeks, during some of the sunniest, longest days of the year, yet the system still produced almost as much power as last year (last year, 10,700 kilowatt hours, this year 9,400.) I guess we have the drought to thank for that.