Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pros and Cons of Controlling the Heat

Is there really that much of a difference between 69 and 70 degrees? My nose thinks so. I turned down the thermostat that single degree yesterday, and last night my nose felt like a popsicle. But as we finished up our umpteenth day this winter of below-freezing temperatures, I count myself lucky that I didn't feel any colder.

I've mentioned many times that one of the perks of living in Ohio is controlling the temperature in your home. In our Brooklyn apartment, we couldn't control a thing -- not when the radiators turned on or off for the day or even the season. Not how hot they got. Not even how loud they got. Many was the morning we woke up to a loud BANG - BANG - BANG!

But the upside was that we didn't have to pay for the heat either. This is often inconvenient for renters -- there is absolutely no incentive, of course, for landlords to keep the heat at a comfortable temperature when the only thing they get out of it is a higher utility bill. Sure, New York City does have minimum temperatures that apartments must be kept at depending on the time of day, but I prefer it warmer. I yearn for the first few winters we were in New York and for some inexplicable reason our apartment was so hot that we had to crack open the windows. That, to me, was perfect.

Not in Ohio, however. We control the heat -- but we pay for it, too. I have no problem shelling out the cash for this convenience in a NORMAL WINTER. But with temperatures dropping to the negative degrees, eek: I'm scared to see the bill.

So fuzzy socks and hooded sweaters are pulled out of drawers. Shut go the doors separating the living room from the drafty windows of the kitchen and dining room. And 70 drops to 69, and hopefully no further. At least until that bill comes.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Making Sausage: Paul's Newest Hobby

Since we moved to Ohio, Paul now has more room for his hobbies. The newest: making sausage.

He requested and received for Christmas a sausage grinding attachment for our stand mixer -- the mixer being one of those items we simply didn't have the space for in our Brooklyn apartment. He bought a pork shoulder last weekend and tried his hand at sausage-making when he was off from work on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

It went surprisingly smoothly. He cut the pork shoulder into chunks and fed them into the grinder. They needed very little coaxing to pass through the machine. The whole thing was done in minutes.

He added seasonings (sage, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper) and mixed them into the meat. Of course, he couldn't wait to sample the fruits of his labor. So he took about a pound of the sausage and formed them into four patties for lunch.

I'm not a huge fan of sausage patties, but these were pretty good. I can't wait to try the meat in Paul's sausage spaghetti sauce, which I already think is excellent.

So this new hobby of Paul's? I'm a fan.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Photo Friday: Edith Tries Eel

Who needs a silly baby spoon when there are chopsticks to be had? And at the end of those chopsticks: barbecued eel. Yum!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Anniversaries of Two Drives in Opposite Directions

Each day is the anniversary of something, but yesterday fit the bill more than usual for me. Six months ago we drove from New York to Ohio when we moved back to our home state. One year ago we drove from Ohio to New York after Edith's baptism and her first visit to Defiance and Columbus.

That trip a year ago was by far the worst we ever made. It wasn't Edith's fault -- she was as much of a dream as a two-month-old could be. But we hit an awful snowstorm in Pennsylvania that put us hours behind. I don't recall my exact thoughts at the time, but I wouldn't be surprised if I was more than ready to move to Ohio at that moment.

And then, six months later, we did.

That drive wasn't annoying. Just sad. I actually still feel rather low when I think about just how weepy I was at the time. So I try not to think about it much.

I still think of Clintonville, our new neighborhood, as the Brooklyn of Columbus. I like that. I still miss Brooklyn a lot, but I often must remind myself to take off the rose-colored glasses. I have lots to legitimately miss about New York, but I have lots that I love about Ohio, too. That's easy to forget.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Photo Friday: Baby's First Pet?

Last week we went to a larger grocery store. It held things that Edith had never seen before -- at least not alive and whole!

No blog post on Monday because of Martin Luther King Day. See you Wednesday!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lunch at A.L.C. Italian Grocery

As I was browsing through the old photos on my phone, I came across a few from one of the last restaurants we ate at in Bay Ridge last July: A.L.C. Italian Grocery.

If you hadn't already guessed from the name, it's actually more of a specialty store than a restaurant. It sells items like pasta, olive oil and spreads. In fact, Paul and I each got our moms a jar of delicious rose jam for Mother's Day last year. I wish I would have gotten one for me, too!

But A.L.C. also has a delicious menu with a few seats along the counter up front, by the window. I can't recall exactly what I got the one time we ate in, but I remember it was delicious. And I remember regretting that we wouldn't get a chance to try the menu again anytime soon. It was sooooo good!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Day 1 of a Year at COSI

We're officially Columbus parents, according to my brother-in-law. On Saturday we purchased an annual membership to COSI, the city's children's museum.

Our Christmas present to each other in New York was always a nice dinner somewhere special. Since the likelihood of that happening in any timely manner has greatly diminished, we've set that aside. (Our 2012 Christmas dinner was so long delayed that we finally gave up on it and bought ourselves a stand mixer just after Thanksgiving.)

So this year, we decided that our present to ourselves and to Edith would be this annual membership. COSI has a special kids' section just for very young children that we thought Edith would like. And truth be told, Paul and I have been looking forward to it to. While the exhibits are often geared toward kids, they are still interesting for adults. And we both have fond memories of visiting the museum ourselves as children.

Expect to see more about the museum here as we continue to explore it. Our initial visit on Saturday proved very crowded: perhaps a bit overwhelming for a little girl. But she seemed to enjoy it, and I expect that she'll like it even more as she grows older and bigger and is able to take more advantage of the many activities and playthings. We'll see what the year ahead holds.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A New Kind of New Year's Eve

B.C. -- before child -- New Year's Eve was generally spent at a bar or a friend's place (sometimes both), with beer and much discussion beforehand about who would be the designated driver.

This year Paul and I hosted a small New Year's Eve get-together for his family and a couple of family friends. Edith was in bed long before the ball dropped, sleeping soundly as the rest of us chatted, played board games and ate copious amounts of food. Maybe the latter was just me. Who can resist fudge and peanut butter pie?

It wasn't a New Year's Eve of yore, but that's OK by me. It was a happy medium between the B.C. Eves and last year's -- which I can't totally recall but believe I was trying to coax my then-one-month-old back to sleep during the countdown.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2014.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snowmageddon: Ohio vs. New York

The extreme amounts of snow and plunging temperatures that both Columbus and New York City have seen in the last few days-- and will continue to experience this week -- made Paul and me wonder: in which city is it better to experience snowmageddon?

My conclusion: It depends on your daily schedule and the risks you are willing to take. I'm better off in Ohio. Paul, I think, would be better off in New York.

You see, when a giant snowstorm comes to New York, cars can stay put. Alternate side parking regulations are suspended. Paul wouldn't be expected to drive to work; he could just take the subway to the office.

Of course, simply getting to the subway required trudging through several blocks of piled-high snow: a treacherous task indeed. But at least the worst-case scenario from that commute was a slip on the ice or a step into an ankle-deep puddle of slush. In Ohio, there's always the real chance of getting into a snow-day accident or slipping into the ditch.

For me, who generally stays close to home, Ohio is better on the worst of the winter days. I can stay inside without getting too stir-crazy. After all, Edith and I have an entire house to roam and not just a tiny apartment. And if we do have to venture out, we don't have to deal with the snowy, slippery sidewalks. A quick walk to the garage, followed by a short drive (probably not even on a highway!), and we're done.

Another Ohio bonus: We now control our heat! No more being at our landlord's mercy when the mercury plummets.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Photo Friday: Edith's Christmas

Here's a new year's resolution I plan to keep: A new photo (or two or ten) will be featured on this blog every Friday a post is published in 2014. It may be accompanied by a bit of text, or not. The overall theme will be little to read, lots to see.

Today, a couple of photos of Edith on Christmas Day.


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