Monday, December 28, 2020

My Everyday Life [Week 52]

Week 52 coming at ya. 

A very chilly Christmas Eve walk to admire the luminaries along some of the sidewalks in our subdivision. One of the ladies in our neighborhood grew up with luminaries lit on Christmas Eve in her childhood subdivision so she wanted to start the tradition here. 
After that chilly walk (it was about 13 degrees out), I made hot cocoa and celebrated jolabokaflod by the fire with Barack's new book and some vegan chocolate. I am really enjoying his book so far!
Shiva was most curious to check out the tree. 
Craig's Christmas haul. I bought the Ice Age Trail book for him and we'll both use that to plan our hikes. 
Christmas day photo. We were both sweating in front of the fireplace and attempted to include the cats in a picture...
...but this is what it looks like when we try to include two sleepy and suspicious kitties. 
A new reindeer ornament made by my sister-in-law! 
I did not want to spend Christmas week grocery shopping in the middle of a pandemic or cooking, so we picked up this nice holiday meal pack from Urban Beets in Wauwatosa and I'm so glad we did. Left to right: roasted carrots, corn casserole, mashed potatoes, a bun, and a chickpea cutlet with gravy. 
Our meal also included a delicious dessert of peppermint chocolate cake. 
A short and masked Christmas day visit with my parents. I cried at the end as it's very sad not to be able to spend the holiday with the whole family, especially as my parents are aging. 

I am very thankful they are both still healthy and did not get the virus yet. Let's hope we all get vaccinated soon and can spend more time together in the new year. 
Look, I actually did my hair and am wearing makeup! I have to say that I am loving being more minimal with my hair and makeup this year, but it also is nice to dress up sometimes. 
My sweet Shiva always curls up on my chest like a little baby. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Day Trip to Madison: Bolz Conservatory, at Olbrich Gardens, Green Own Cafe, and Green Life Trading Co

Like a lot of people, Craig and I are enjoying a long holiday weekend and we wanted to do something more than sit around the house. Given that we are still in the middle of a pandemic, we also needed to choose somewhere safe to visit. We decided to head to Madison for a little road trip on Saturday.

We started at the Bolz Conservatory at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. We had been to the gardens in Spring a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it. The conservatory also did not disappoint. 

Due to staffing for the pandemic, we had to pay $6 each to enter the conservatory. It is normally free. The gardens are always free. 

Upon entering, I was pleasantly surprised to hear lots of birds singing. Check out this black and white beauty on the top right of the photo. 

The bird above wasn't listed on the sign below naming all of the various species found in the conservatory. We saw all of the birds listed on the sign and they were so adorable. My favorite was the Orange-Cheeked Waxbill, which was singing and flying low to the ground. It was so fast and hard to capture on camera.
Doesn't it look like someone painted on these stripes? Nature is amazing.
We only encountered two other families the whole time we were there and it felt really easy to socially distance. 
Craig and I both liked this unique plant. 
I wish we had better luck growing orchids at home as we both think they're beautiful. 
While at the conservatory, we ordered our lunch for pickup from a local vegetarian and vegan restaurant. We had some time to kill before picking up our food, so we headed across the street to check out the ice formations along Lake Monona. 
Pickup was super safe and easy at The Green Owl Cafe
I ordered the vegan bahn mi sandwich with seasonal greens on the side (squash and brussels sprouts, yum). Craig got the vegan steak bomb. 
After eating lunch in our car, we drove down the street to find the new zero waste store that opened earlier this year. 

I always enjoy walking past the houses in Madison. I liked these two windows that we saw on our walk to Williamson Street. 
Yep. Hope we don't hear about him in a month. 
I checked out Green Life Trading Co alone while Craig went across the street to St. Vincent DePaul (which had an excellent used books section). I had the store to myself and there were so many great products to check out. The owner Sasha was so nice to talk to. It's so gratifying seeing people like her pursuing their dreams and spreading the message about zero waste living to others! 
Look at this gorgeous mural and the amazing ceiling. 
If you don't bring your own containers to fill, the store has some to use. 
I am definitely going to head back here with some empty jars post pandemic and when I need more refills of products. 
I purchased this dish soap! I will keep you posted on if it works well. Actually, I think I am going to write a whole post on zero waste living and products one of these days. 
The last stop on our road trip was to Willy Street Co-Op East and I think that might have been my first time in the store. I loved it and so did Craig. It was seriously heaven for me and reminded me a lot of Outpost. I think Willy Street had a lot more vegan baked goods and items, but that is also could be because there are probably more vegans in Madison than the Milwaukee area. 

Yes you are. This is a good reminder. 
We had a great day getting away for a couple of hours! Can't wait to go back again sometime, especially once the pandemic is over. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

My Everyday Life [Week 51]

Here's week 51. I can't believe this crazy year is almost over. 

Mom and I with our Mammoth Hike certificates and patches!

A nice winter walk in our neighborhood. 
After nine months of WFH, we finally bought a proper office chair. Craig and I are both not impulsive spenders, so we take our time to find the things we need. Sometimes that is kind of annoying, but in this case, we found a great chair at a good price. 
Craig in the new chair and Pema in the terrible old one. We're going to switch off sharing the new chair since the whole WFH thing is not permanent.  
Loved this baby yoda sign at the library. 
Pema stalking Craig while they walked in circles around the house. 
I ordered us this meal for Christmas from Urban Beets Cafe in Tosa. I really don't feel like cooking and ordering a whole bunch of groceries or going to the store. Let's hope it's delicious! At least it will make the day feel a little more special. All we have to do is warm it up on Christmas. 
Shiva chilling and Pema kneeding on the warm bed. 
Shiva the little poser. 
This BBQ lentil loaf and sweet potato meal from Urban Beets was delicious! 
Looks like a bunch of boring brown bags but it's my zero waste store order from The Glass Pantry. I ordered cous cous, onion powder, cornstarch, berry smoothie powder, and vegan charcoal floss in a refillable glass jar. 
This is so me! If only one of the libraries in our system was one I could walk to. Someday I hope we'll have a house where that is the case. 
A dramatic French movie always cures bad days. And boy was my Thursday pretty awful. 
This is one of my favorite podcasts lately. 
Brunching at home on Saturday with an excellent poetry book I read in one sitting. 
Earl grey tea (my fave) and an ok book. I decided I'm not really into the holiday rom com genre. This was just a nice LFL find so I thought I'd try reading it. 
I went on a solo hike today and it was exactly what I needed. The sunshine and being out in nature felt so healing. 
Solo hiking means I can stop and watch downy woodpeckers eat their lunch. I also watched chickadees and white-breasted nuthatches. I need to join the bird club at Retzer because I'm 40 going on 65. 
Many of the paths at Retzer Nature Center were like this, so after a few close falls, I decided to take the paved or snow free paths instead. 
The park has some new paths, so it was fun to check those out and dream about spring and summer hiking again. 
I finally got a haircut. I think I've only had two this whole year and I haven't been going to my normal salon because I want the fastest cut possible and don't want my hair washed. I pay about 1/4 of what I used to, if not less, and my stylist still does a great job.