Definitely a day to be thankful for shelter. A major winter storm hit with high winds and lots of rain -- as BJ told me more than once, it was "a very blustery day, like in the Hundred Acre Wood." This comparison tickled him quite a bit.
We were lucky. No power outages, just a few flickers. One big branch came down from the tree across the street, and our canvas gazebo out back is somewhat the worse for wear. I was glad that I didn't have any need to leave the house with the kids. S went in to campus for the day, so I just hung around with BJ and BB and made a big crock pot of soup.
I made Mexican Black Bean soup, which has become a standby recipe in the past year. Super easy and yummy. Even BJ will eat it. He likes "helping" me make it, too. (Turns out he really enjoys peeling onions.)
Here's the recipe:
1 32 oz carton broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 onion, chopped
1 or 2 bell peppers, chopped (green and/or red)
2 tsp. minced garlic (or to taste)
Olive oil to saute (1-2 tsp)
2 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
1 tsp. cumin (or to taste)
3 cans black beans, drained & rinsed
2 cans Rotel tomatoes
1 pkg. frozen corn
1 tsp. lemon juice
Saute onion, pepper, and garlic in olive oil until onion starts to turn transparent. Add spices. Combine with broth in large crock pot. Add beans, tomatoes, corn & lemon juice. Add water or more broth depending on how "soupy" you like it. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
I like to serve it with cornbread, a salad, shredded cheese, and sour cream. Tonight I made a spinach & citrus salad since I'd been craving one and had most of the stuff on hand. (Baby spinach, mandarin oranges, grapefruit chunks, carrots, cranberries, with poppyseed dressing. I usually put in some sort of cheese -- gorgonzola, feta, or even mozzarella chunks -- but we were out. I'd also include nuts for crunch and protein but we were out of them too. Anyway, I would have left them out so BJ could have some. )
As I was sitting down to feed BB her dinner, my very good friend M called and asked if there was time for her to drop by, and she ended up joining us for dinner. We (finally!) exchanged our holiday gifts, which was fun -- she gave us all T-shirts. BJ got an alphabet shirt, S got a clever pirate shirt, I got a very cute one that says "Moms Rock" with a rocking chair, and BB got one that says "My Mom is a Hottie." (Can I even bring myself to put that on her? We'll see! Definitely made me laugh, though. Maybe S will take the lead on that one.)
I was rather proud of my gift to M: an Etsy creation of a custom made sign for her garden. M had asked for a copy of a poem I'd written some time ago, a pantoum I wrote about weeding. She said she wanted to frame it for the garden in her new house, so I decided to have it painted on a sign she could keep outdoors. Bittymoose was really great to work with for this project, and M seemed to like it very much. (I only felt a little awkward with how big it ended up being, and how large my name seemed to be on the sign. But that's just my shy self, I suppose!)
But even nicer than presents was the simple pleasure of her company. I don't get together with her nearly enough these days, and it's so much fun to see her with the kids. She calls them her UGKs (unofficial Godkids) and she's their Tia. And an excellent Tia she is, too!
Before kids, it would have been the perfect day to curl up with a cup of tea and read. There's nothing quite like a cozy afghan, a hot mug and a cat in your lap, and a good book. The luxury of extended reading time is one of the things I long for most since becoming a parent.
I think I miss only two things more than reading time: sleep, followed closely by writing time. And tied with reading time would be time with S and time with friends.... seems it's all about time, these days. Never enough of it. (I am reminded that M once threw a reading party. Now that's my kind of gal, hosting a shindig that combines good reading time with the company of good friends!) But hey, at least both my kids are showing a love of books. I look forward to a day (probably sooner than I can imagine) when the whole family can spend a rainy afternoon reading together, each lost in our own little literary worlds, all of us snuggled up safe from the storm.