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Sunday, 22 December 2019

Pre-Christmas

Today, my list included some laundry, some chicken chores, the rest of my baking, and wrapping presents. I did the laundry, I did the chicken chores, I did SOME wrapping, and I did my baking, although decorating of cookies will have to happen tomorrow.

I decided to try a new gingerbread cookie recipe and I was very pleased with how it turned out. I even dragged out my fancy big mixer!

Can you smell the cloves and ginger?

I even followed the instructions and wrapped and refridgerated the dough. (Sometimes I skip this step). Hang on, I think that's the sugar cookie dough. I made three different things today: gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies, and "Christmas crack" which is the saltine crackers with a liquid toffee poured over it and then milk chocolate chips melted on top. Are you familiar with it?

Gingerbread cookies waiting to go in the oven.

Sugar cookies in the oven. Boy, the house smelled good!

Santa heads, candy canes, ornaments, a boot... all going to be decorated later.

The tree is up and decorated. We still have a real tree. I'm not sure if we will ever go the artificial route. 

The village is a-lit, and the Santa collection sits above it. If you look closely, you will see that Godzilla has made his way to the village and is about to wreak havoc.

A display in the livingroom. I love the Santa and reindeer. It's pretty big and I pack it away carefully every year.

Symmetry in the den. The shelf came from my parents' house.

Finally, here is Scooter nestled under a pile of flannel pajamas. Nothing says winter like flannel!








Friday, 20 December 2019

Tribute to a Very Fine Feline Friend

We got Sammy from the animal shelter in a near by town. He wasn't actually at the animal shelter, he was the feature pet at the associated pet food / supply place in the same town. He was just a really cool dude. Very chill. When we bought him, at about a year old, already neutered and with all his shots, we put him in the back of the vehicle with the kids who were roughly 8 and 11 years old at the time. I warned them that he might meow all the way home and be a bit distressed to be in the vehicle. Nope, he sat down in his cage, crossed his front legs and relaxed.

He was a perfectly symmetrical brown tabby. Most tabbies are good, all around, naturally easy to get along with cats. He was an indoor / outdoor cat. He enjoyed when his humans were outside with him. He was a pretty good hunter in his younger years. He was chief inspector for all outdoor projects. He knew the best time to come around to the table, and lately, we had been pulling up a chair at the table for him! Sammy got along with other cats, in that he tolerated them, didn't fuss too much, again, was just a cool dude about things.

Several weeks ago, we realized he wasn't doing well. The vet did some tests and let us know that he was suffering from kidney disease. He started to go down hill pretty quickly and there wasn't anything we could do to reverse this. Sammy died a little while ago, we chose to not share this with our young adult kids who were in the middle of college / university exams and assignments. Once they were done with those, we let them know and we all mourned the loss of a "family member" that had been with us for about 12 years.

I know many of you are pet owners and have gone through something similar. It is what we take on as pet owners. We love our animals, we help them through their final weeks, we pay them the respect they deserve.



Rest in peace sweet boy - Samson. We will miss you.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

traditional decadence

Christmas is getting closer and closer. I've never been the poster child for being ready for Christmas well ahead of time (still have gifts to buy, decorating to do, baking to accomplish, presents to wrap...), but I did manage to make some goodies this morning. I got this recipe from an old friend, Claire, years ago and since then it has come to be an expected part of our sweet treats at Christmas time. No doubt many of you make or have made something similar, but just in case you would like to take in an extra few thousand calories over the holidays, here is the recipe:

Peanut Butter Confetti Bars

-1/2 cup margarine or butter
-1 cup smooth peanut butter
-1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips
-1 1/2 cups peanut butter chips
-1 bag multi-coloured mini marshmallows

Melt and stir all ingredients except marshmallows in a double boiler until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool a little. Add 1 bag (mine was 250 g) of mini marshmallows and stir to coat them all. Pour into a 9 x 12 baking pan (I line mine with foil to make it easier to lift it out and slice up). Let it cool, cut into smallish squares.


Pan is lined with foil.

Butterscotch, peanut butter chips and butter in double boiler.

Now, the peanut butter.

Melting and getting smoother.

Wait a bit before you add the marshmallows, so you don't melt them as well.

Stir everything well so all the marshmallows are well coated.

Let it cool and harden before you try to cut it up. Decadent, sweet, and guaranteed to add about a half inch to your hips over the holidays. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

The Gales of November

Man it was windy last night and this morning!! It was just a miserable, wet, very windy day. However, all the snow has gone (the header picture is from a little while ago) and the temperatures were actually mild (for late November). Here and there, people lost their power due to trees falling on hydro lines.

Today, I had an appointment at the orthodontist. I am now in the third week of Invisalign (clear trays that do the same thing as braces). I wish I could say it is all fine and dandy, but alas, by the end of the day, the rubbing on the inside of my bottom lip and a couple spots on the top still cause me pain. I have an arsenal of treatments that I do to try to help my mouth heal and guard it from further distress. If I could just rest it and not talk, I'd likely be much better, but it is rather hard to teach a class of kids without moving one's mouth. I told the good people at my orthodontist clinic about this and they were surprised and said nobody's ever complained about this particular discomfort before. Funny, there are plenty of people on the internet who have.

Regardless, it was time to have the "buttons" put on my teeth. I had 14 of these little square protruding things chemically attached to the outside of my teeth. They match little bump-outs on my Invisalign trays. It is all part of forcing my teeth in the directions they are supposed to go. Because they are brand new, these little buttons (evokes kind of a cute image) are sharp as hell and rough like sandpaper. So, when you pry your trays out of your mouth to eat, the action of chewing now shreds new "death by a thousand cuts" in other parts of my mouth. I've read (because you must google these things) that the act of removing and re-inserting your trays helps to smooth out these nasty protrusions over time, so they become less deadly. I can't wait.

However.... all was not lost. My drive to the orthodontist is about a half an hour through the countryside and I saw no less than THREE snowy owls!! I was so excited. I pulled over and took a picture of one on the way there. I saw another one, but did not take a picture. Then, on the way back home, I saw three of them, so I did stop for more pictures. No doubt, these were the same ones I saw both ways, but still very exciting! I wonder if they are related? They make me think of Hedwig from Harry Potter. The extreme wind had died down at this point in the afternoon, but it was still pretty breezy. Despite that, they were perched high atop hydro poles, no doubt waiting patiently to spot some unsuspecting rodent.



They didn't even seem to mind that I pulled my vehicle over, and for the one above, I got out and walked as close as I dared to take the picture. I had never seen a snowy owl before last year (I posted about it then), and now I can say I've seen a total of four!

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Snow, Canadian Milk, and Teeth

How do you like that title?

We have snow. We have a whole lot of snow. Here is my porch. Yes, that's a little bistro table. No, it has not been put away. It is November the 13. There should have been time to put that little bistro table away before this all happened.


This is so very wrong.


As I am writing this post at 10:02 p.m., there is still snow falling outside. Maybe it won't stay.


O.K., so that was the "Snow" part of my title.
Sometimes when I'm drinking my one cup of heavenly coffee per day in the morning, I sit at the computer and read the semi-news feed drivel that comes up on my computer. Sometimes there are "articles" that describe "Twenty things about Canadians that Americans Don't Understand", or some such thing. Often times, one of those things is our milk. We buy our milk in bags. In those bags are three smaller bags. The bags get put into milk pitchers, specially made to hold the bags. Then we snip a corner off the bag and pour the milk out as needed. This is normal for us. Here is my milk pitcher.


Thus endeth the lesson on Canadian milk.

Teeth- I've never thought more about teeth than I have in the past two days. I have embarked on a quest that I should have done decades ago. But I'm doing it now. I am now the wearer of Invisaligns. Yes, I'm 53 years old, with "braces". I have always hated my teeth. My parents did not make a lot of money and I guess orthodontics was not part of my father's dental plan. To try to assist with my crowded teeth, my parents approved of the dentist pulling one permanent tooth when I was young (don't even know how old I was at the time) to make room for my other teeth. It didn't really work.

Life moved on, I was busy with my career, then kids came and I was busy being a mother and a professional, and even though I still hated my teeth, I didn't think it was something adults did. I saw it as an unnecessarily vain thing to do, I mean, who was I trying to impress? I was a married adult, with growing children.

Then, as retirement became a more tangible thing, I realized I still hate my teeth and my dental plan would be coming to an end fairly soon, so if I was going to do something, I'd better do it quickly. So I went to the same orthodontist that did my son's braces and asked for a consult. Yes, it could be done, and they could try and have it accomplished by my retirement date (year and a half - please do NOT tell more stories of people you know for whom it took three years to straighten their teeth - I don't want to know).

My teeth got scanned with some sort of advanced technology, the order was placed, and I waited for someone in, I want to say Costa Rica (??) make my Invisalign trays. I went on Monday to pick up my first two. I was shown how to put them in and was told all the ins and outs of having these things in my mouth. (If you are unfamiliar, they are clear plastic "trays" that mold over your teeth, top and bottom. Mine will be changed every week to a new tray which gradually shifts your teeth into a straighter position). In two weeks, I go back to the orthodontist to get these little "buttons" glued to some of my teeth which put added pressure on certain teeth to help guide things along even more.

Here's the thing. I'm a big baby about certain things medical and painful. But other things, I can handle. Mouth stuff doesn't really bother me all that much. I'm o.k. with needles, I drag myself into work under all kinds of less than perfect situations of pain or ill health. I really thought I would be totally fine with this - hey I'm paying someone to do this! I CHOSE to have my teeth forcibly moved around in my head. But here's the reality: this is no fun at all! I so want to rip these things off my teeth and run over them with my car. They are tight and make me feel claustrophobic, and I'm pretty sure I could have drowned in my own saliva the first 24 hours. That was day one. I truly didn't think I would be able to sleep with them in. Two Tylenol Night time for Pain tablets helped. Then two days of teaching, which essentially is talking all day long, and the edges of the trays have now worn away much of the soft tissue in my mouth that they come in contact with. That's also not a great sensation. I have googled things like" how long did it take to get used to your invisaligns" and "when do you start to get used to invisaligns". The results lead me to believe that I have a few more days until things calm down and it stops being the ONLY thing I think about. Ahhh, but then I switch to new trays and get to do it all over again. Did I mention I'm paying someone to do this to me?

You must keep your invisaligns in for about 22 hours a day in order to get the full benefit and results. If you eat, or drink anything other than water, you pry these things out of your mouth (I go to the back corner of the staffroom and turn my back so people don't have to watch me do this - it's not pretty), then you are supposed to brush your teeth before you put them back in when you're done. I tend to do a secret pick and floss with one of those floss things with a handle (again, people really don't want to witness that).

Can I just say that the happiest time of my day is when those things are off my teeth? Oh, but then when I try to chew my food, it is now like I am using someone else's teeth to do it. They don't feel right. They may not feel right for another year and a half.

I also feel like I might now refer to this as the "Invisalign diet" because you really have to decide if it is worth the hassle to mindlessly snack on something. I'm seriously wondering if I drink my red wine through a straw, maybe I won't have to take the trays out.

The thing that really hit home for me, was when I realized that an eight year old girl in my class also has invisaligns right now. I told her we could be Invisalign sisters. (I did ask her, "So how long did you have them before you got used to them?" Her answer was "two weeks"). Oh well, once I'm done all the bellyaching and they stop being a form of torture, I will be so pleased to gradually see my teeth become something I don't want to hide behind my hand when I laugh, or close my mouth on when I smile for a camera.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

sleep, elusive sleep

I remember sleeping past noon when I was young, reckless, unencumbered, and full of hormones.

Now, I can't remember the last time I've had a decent night sleep. I suppose the reasons are many, too many thoughts in my head, a husband who snores (although he has graciously agreed upon occasion to take up residence in the now-empty 19-year old's bed), lack of hormones, silly cat that thinks he has to wake me up because he would like to eat and be let out at 3:00 a.m....

I suspect I'm not the only one out there with sleep issues. I know more regular, purposeful exercise would help (I do try, but not enough), I don't drink any more than one caffeinated drink per day, I have tried melatonin, even took Tylenol nighttime for pain (wasn't it any specific pain)…

I really think it's being 53 and those oh so powerful hormones, or decline of those oh so powerful hormones, is messing with me.

I am now opening the floodgates of comments - proceed.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Do you Smell Bacon?

"Do you smell bacon?"  That's what my principal said when she stuck her head in my class this morning to say hello to my kids.

I'm really not a huge Hallowe'en person, but the kids like it when their teachers dress up, so yes, I was bacon. Who doesn't love bacon?? Very Canadian of me.

Here is my driving to work picture:


It was that dark when I started off this morning.   This is not to be confused with a previous year's driving to work picture:


I've changed food groups.

Just so you know, it rained ALL DAY LONG.   Yes, Hallowe'en combined with two indoor recesses, and no scheduled gym time. It was delightful.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Observation of the Day...

Yesterday I did my usual Saturday shopping. I was at the grocery store when I made an observation. Do with it what you will:

An Amish (Mennonite?) family was at another till beside me and I noticed some of the food they were buying: pizza pops, potato chips, other pre-packaged convenience foods. It made me mentally go, "huh".

Side note: we have many, many Amish and Mennonite people living in our area. Seeing these people was not the unusual observation for me, it was the food they were buying. One has the preconceived notion that Amish families bake their own treats, can their fruits and vegetables, make things from scratch... No judgement about potato chips - I can take on a bag of Doritos with the best of them!

It's been blustery and rainy today. Our cat Samson seems to be not doing well. He is quite thin and just not himself. Hopefully we can get him in to see the vet in the next couple of days. I have been working my way through a big bin of marking. Ughhhhhh - sometimes it's like pulling teeth. I need to complete a bit more so I am ready for our first round of report cards, which are due to admin. in less than two weeks. Just part of the profession.

Tonight is another new episode of the Durrells in Corfu. I love this series. Do any of you watch it?

Sunday, 20 October 2019

A Woman's Purse

There is something about a woman's purse. It is a place of mystery, a treasure trove, a cherished item, a coveted possession, a thing from which one cannot be parted, or nowadays - nothing at all.

My husband has shared that his mother told him as a child, that you never go in your lady's purse! On the rare occasion that he needs something, like a set of keys for example, that might be in my purse, he asks first and then asks for directions, and even then often has a hard time retrieving the item. I'm not sure why it is so difficult to find something in my purse. It's not that complicated, although there is an outside pocket and an inside pocket and two sections...


I don't think I have a lot of "stuff" in my purse. My mother, long before Wet Wipes, used to carry a damp washcloth in a plastic bag in her purse. You never knew when someone's sticky hands might need a wipe. Currently in my purse is my wallet, a grocery list, a lipstick (or two), two pens, a set of keys, my reading glasses, an assortment of mints from restaurants provided with the bill, a sample of dental floss from my last dentist visit, a variety of pills (most of them travel headache related), a couple of business cards (must remember to book a time with the massage therapist), and a Tim Horton's card. There might be other items - I'm not peering into my purse at the moment.


But you go ahead - there it is, leopard print and all. I do like my orange pen which is easy to find in the depths of my purse.

Do you have a full purse? My mother-in-law, who in her defense is suffering from dementia, keeps her whole life in her purse and it must weigh ten pounds. It is falling apart. It's an old black Joan Rivers purse that she ordered from the home shopping network on tv many years ago. She loves that thing and husband even used black duct tape to secure the inside of it for her. She will not part with it. She recently flew to see her daughter (with husband's help) and she almost wouldn't let them take her purse and put in on the little conveyer belt to go through the scanner at the airport.

My bag is not expensive or designer or anything fancy at all. I don't really have any friends for whom a designer bag is important. None of us have that much disposable income to put towards a purse. But it's comfortable over my shoulder and tosses easily on the seat beside me and has lasted a few years now.

This past summer, my daughter accidentally left her purse, which is more like a wallet with straps, in a McDonald's restaurant in Montreal. When she got home and realized what had happened she went into action cancelling credit cards and arranging for other i.d. to be replaced. She did a great job. She contacted the McDonalds, just in case the purse had turned up, but no luck. A while later, a person contacted her through social media. They had found her purse and wanted to know if she wanted it returned. Daughter said yes and provided an address and did an email transfer of a bit of money to cover the cost of postage, and the individual very kindly mailed it to her. Everything was intact! However, at this point all the i.d. had been replaced, but she still got her purse back and had some faith in humans!

Girls my daughter's age, or younger, don't really seem to carry purses anymore. They carry their phone. They slip their debit / credit card inside the phone case. That's it. They travel light. When I was that age, I was an eighties girl and my purse contained not only a wallet, but a full arsenal of hair products - brush, hairspray, teasing comb... My friend even carried her own cordless curling iron with its own cannister of butane! I probably had a wide variety of makeup, a couple of pairs of earrings, maybe an extra pair of nylons in a ziplock bag... but not a cellphone. There were no cellphones then (shock, horror). I likely had perfume, like Cinnabar from Estee Lauder or L'Air du Temps . I might have had a camera in there too, with it's 110 film. Yes, young women these days travel much lighter.

A woman's purse. Is yours a treasured item, a mystery, or nothing at all?





Monday, 14 October 2019

Definitely Autumn

First, happy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian friends. It felt the most like autumn this Saturday, when I was driving into town and the leaves were blowing through the air and finally, the maples were turning colour. They are a little late this year.

The temperature is cold, it has been raining, and I am very thankful that we didn't get the snow that northern Ontario did, where my daughter is right now. She texted a picture of the snow covered scene she woke up to! Way too early for that. Sometimes we get snow around Hallowe'en, but snow at Thanksgiving is asking too much, even for Canadians.

I decided to put together a little fall display. Husband had purchased this two-tier unit, thinking I would like it as a fruit 'bowl', but honestly, the wires bruised the fruit and they would start to rot quickly. I was just going to stash it somewhere, but then Pinterest tempted me into creating this:


I found a little cheap framed word art at Walmart.


I added little Dollerama sprigs and fruit and pinecones, as well as apples.

This little fellow was another cheap Walmart find.


I added a small squash, some hydrangea from my garden, and some Chinese lantern plant that I didn't plant, but ended up in my garden anyway. 

Outside, on the porch, or by the door from the car port, I like to place a few mums and pumpkins.

Lastly, for a quintessential autumn touch, behold the wooly bear caterpillar. Is it the size of the caterpillar, or the size of the brown band in the middle, or the size of the black bands at the ends that is supposed to foretell the severity of our winter? Don't remember, but there are lots of these little fellows around.




Friday, 11 October 2019

Keep an Eye Out!

Spied this as I was leaving work tonight, walking out to my car.


This is all part of my world - didn't even bat an eye. Barely glanced down. Well, no, I guess it did catch my eye, or I wouldn't have taken a picture. 😉

Monday, 7 October 2019

October 7th

I'm done work, watching a recorded episode of Coronation Street, having a little glass of red. I tried to do some transferring from a savings account which is a separate institute from our regular bank. You access it online. When I was asked to answer a security question (which I had set up ages ago), I entered a slightly incorrect answer (used a plural instead of a singular for my highschool mascot) and it was rejected. When I tried it again, thinking maybe I had spelled it wrong, the online banking programme decided I was up to no good and locked me out of my account.

It is probably a good thing that the security is nice and tight, but on the other hand when I went online to try to rectify things, I couldn't talk to a person and tried (unsuccessfully) to get through the maze of entering various numbers and codes. After having a tiny freak out, I finally was able to call and talk to a human who helped me and reset things.

Anybody remember bank books?



So... our washing machine has decided to break down. I was planning on doing a load of laundry tonight. Husband knows what's wrong (because he's kind of smart like that) and he has ordered a part online. It may arrive by the 17th of this month. Or, for twice the price, you can have it in two days. I think we can save by waiting (for the price of the part, I wonder if it is made out of gold??). I said we can have a date night at the local laundromat. Can't wait!! For now, I'll be washing out my "delicates" in the sink.

I bought a big ham (on the bone) because there are lots of them available for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. I'd planned the whole week's menu around this ham - potato, leek and ham soup, quiche with ham in it, and well, a ham dinner with green beans from the garden, tomatoes from the garden, mashed potatoes... except I took longer to get out of work tonight, then I battled it out with the online bank, and at that point it was too late to get the ham in, so it's toasted bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, or for husband there's cold chicken sandwiches (blechh, I am not a fan of cold chicken, but he likes it) for supper instead. Ham will happen tomorrow night instead.

It was a lovely weekend in that daughter was home, and then when we took her back to her city, we planned on going to Costco (for some people it's a weekly thing, but for us, we go maybe once every four months), and she arranged for our son (who was visiting his girlfriend in the same city) to surprise us at Costco. So we all went out for supper and it was great to see everyone. Unfortunately, son is realizing that living with a roommate at college isn't necessarily all roses. His roommate is somewhat 'odiferous' and son is quite fastidious with his cleanliness. So me, the woman who can't handle any fake scents at all, broke down and bought him some Fabreeze at Costco so he can hopefully make his dorm room smell a bit better. Hopefully he will take my advise and have a bit of a chat with his roommate about stinky shoes, piles of clothes, and maybe some leftover food.

However, I do think that going through little tough times makes you really appreciate the good things in life. For example, I think every teenager should have to drive a bit of a clunker of a vehicle so that they work hard in life so they can drive a better vehicle later. I'm sure he'll be very happy to be back for the Thanksgiving weekend with pumpkin pie and turkey and a fresh room. (They can't even open their windows in their dorm rooms!).

Right, so there's my stream of consciousness for the day. Carry on, all, and we'll talk again soon.






Thursday, 3 October 2019

Aunt Gwen and fall fair

A few weekends ago, husband and I drove down to the community where I grew up. My cousin decided to hold an art "show" featuring her mom's work from years gone by. My Aunt Gwen was my mother's only sister. She enjoyed painting and produced quite a lot of work when she was younger. She died about a year ago, and so in honour of her, my cousin created a display of her work at a local fall fair (where Aunt Gwen grew up). My siblings and some other cousins gathered there, so this was a nice chance to catch up (as one of my cousins mentioned, it seems like it's only funerals or maybe weddings where we see each other, so this was a welcome change!).

I truly don't have a judgement whether my Auntie Gwen was a fabulous artist or not. I'm certainly no artist, and probably one of the least artistic of all of my siblings. But I do know that her paintings were a constant in my childhood. "Over at the farm", many of her paintings hung in the big craftsman style farmhouse. My parents, of course, had some of her paintings as well, and so they hung in our living room or in the kitchen. I'm now lucky enough to have two of them to keep in my home. I loved their frames, and just the feeling they invoked - homey and contented. Some of the paintings at the art show, I had never seen before because they hung in her home in Saskatchewan where she moved with her husband after living on the farm in Ontario.








These aren't all of the paintings that were there, but it gives you an example of her style.

Aunt Gwen was a very selfless, giving person. She sewed all of my grandmother's dresses to her specifications (sleeveless and polyester prints), she mailed us big cardboard boxes of clothes and special little treats - all the way from Saskatchewan - which was pretty exciting when my sister and I were kids, and she and her husband, my Uncle Al, and their two children would make the long trek across provinces to come back 'home' for a few weeks in the summer to stay at the farm house and do "spring cleaning" and various other tasks, as well as have some visits with friends and family in Ontario.

It was lovely to look at her work and remember the special person she was.

At the same time, we wandered around enjoying a typical fall fair atmosphere. Here are some pictures of the 4-H calf shows and some horses that were taken through their hunter / jumper paces.





To top it off, we enjoyed some extra greasy, salty, ketchupy fries in the open air and then had a lovely visit with friends who live in the area that we don't see nearly enough.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Chicken Morning

To lighten the mood from yesterday, I invite you to join in my morning ritual. I opened the little chicken door and got my phone ready to capture the morning rush. They really do run and tumble out.


First out of the gates: it's Columbian Rock, followed by Barred Rock, followed by Columbian Rock (nope, I don't name them).


Following close behind... standard brown laying hens.


Wait for me!


Still more...
But let's turn on the light and go inside.


Still on the roost.


Giving me the eye.


She wasn't laying an egg, she was just sitting there.


Although they can eat exactly the same food inside the coop, they get very excited to dine al fresco and wait for me to feed them outside each morning.


On the chicken bench, surveying her world.

And those are my mornings. Have a lovely Sunday.