A few pictures from the aftermath of the great storm.

All told, we got about sixteen inches of snow, our third heaviest 24-hour snowfall ever.

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When my husband got home from ski patrol last night, he got out our garden tractor which he’d put a plow attachment on and added chains to the tires:

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…and started plowing our endless driveway:

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The children ran around in the snow excitedly while I swept off the porch.

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Around ten, I shooed them into the house and got them ready for bed. I didn’t actually make them go to bed though; where would be the fun in a snow day if you’re made to go to bed? I, however, fell asleep around 11:00, only to wake up around 1:00 a.m. and realize that Phil hadn’t come in yet.

I stepped out into the garage, but he wasn’t there. I yelled for him from the porch, but my voice was lost in the howling wind and blowing snow. I got that cold dread in the pit of my stomach and pulled on boots and a long coat over my pajamas and set off down the driveway through the blizzard, terrified that I’d find him injured or dead from a horrible plowing accident. I found him at the very end of the driveway, alive and well thank goodness. He was in the plowing and shoveling zone I guess and didn’t realize how late it was.

This morning the sun was shining, brilliantly blinding on the fresh snow but giving no warmth.

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Even the University of Michigan had cancelled classes, the first time I can ever remember them doing so.

We set about digging out in earnest and it took us nearly all day to shovel the porch, steps, walkway, deck, patio, and trampoline while Phil worked endlessly on getting that darn driveway clear.

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Our driveway is…

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…really…

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…really…

 

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…really…

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…really LONG.

The children took lots of breaks to sled down the back hill and shovel the snow off our pond ice rink and made lots of trips inside to refresh themselves with hot cocoa.

Tonight there is a full moon and the sunset was all rosy pink and eerie blue:

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The temperatures have dropped down near 0 F, so we’re in for another frigid night.  Tomorrow it’s back to school and work for all of us, but it was a fun day off!

That time when I thought mud was coming out of the water taps and how it caused me to devise a Home Made Hot Cocoa Mix recipe.

When we first bought this home back in August, the county water test report came back positive for coliform, which isn’t apparently all that unusual but does require that the well be chlorinated before the home can be sold. Cribley’s chlorinated the well, which involves injecting a heavy chlorine solution and then running the water in each tap until chlorinated water comes out. You then let the chlorine solution sit in the well and pipes for 48 hours, after which you flush the system out. Sure enough, a clean water sample was obtained but because the water is so very hard here, there had been some mineral build up in the pipes that was loosened up by the chlorine solution. When we took possession of the home, I turned on the tap and…BROWN water came out. I nearly passed out and started hollering for my husband, who called Cribley’s, who explained that it wasn’t really mud coming out of the tap but rather mineral sediment (i.e. LOTS of iron) coming out of the pipes. They assured us it would clear after a few days, and it did, but in the mean time we needed drinking water, so we bought a water dispenser:

Cocoa and water station

It’s one of those kinds that has a hot and a cold water spigot. Since we had hot water on demand, I set up a little tea-making station on a table next to it, along with locally-produced honey comb from the farm around the corner. Once the weather started turning colder (which happened very early this year), the girls started requesting hot cocoa before getting on the school bus at (gulp) 6:50 in the morning. Now, they have the nicest bus driver in the history of bus-driving, and she actually lets them bring their cocoa on the bus in the morning provided it’s in a foam cup with a lid (we never had bus drivers like this when I was a kid), so I added that to the station. But have you ever read the ingredient list on the back of those instant cocoa packets? Let’s take a look, shall we? Here’s what’s in Swiss Miss packets, for example:

sugar, corn syrup, modified whey, cocoa (processed with alkali), hydrogenated coconut oil, nonfat milk, calcium carbonate, less than 2% of: salt, dipotassium phosphate, mono- and diglyderides, artificial flavor.

Ugh, hydrogenated oils? Artificial flavors? I don’t want my kids drinking chemical crap every morning, so I decided to make my own hot cocoa mix. Here is my recipe:

Ingredients

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 1/4 cups nonfat powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch

Cocoa ingredients

Equipment

  • Fine mesh sieve
  • large mixing bowl
  • large mixing spoon
  • measuring cups, measuring spoons
  • container to store the mix in

Cocoa Equipment

Directions

1. Pour 1 cup cocoa powder into fine mesh sieve over mixing bowl. Add the salt and cornstarch.

Cocoa and powdered sugar

2. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and work it through the sieve by using the back of the spoon to rub it through the mesh and eliminate lumps.

Cocoa and dried milk

3. Add the nonfat dry milk to the sieve and work it through.

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4. When all the ingredients have been worked through the sieve, mix to combine, then spoon into a jar or container to store.

Cocoa mix in container

5. To prepare hot cocoa, fill your cup about 1/3 full of hot cocoa mix and 2/3 full of hot water. Mix and add marshmallows if desired.

Cocoa made

Feel free to play with this recipe and make it your own. You might like it sweeter or more cocoa-y, so adjust the ingredients accordingly. Also, you might try a dash of cayenne pepper or cinnamon in the mix to give it a zing.