Saturday 31 October 2015


I wasn't going to do a Hallowe'en post, but then when I was driving home on my usual route from getting groceries today, I saw this.

Isn't that awesome??  It's actually painted ( I guess) onto the horse!!!! I laughed when I drove past, then thought, hey that's what cell phones with cameras are for. I turned around and pulled over and took a couple of pictures. I didn't figure the owners would mind, because if you are going to paint a skeleton on your horse at Hallowe'en and put it in a paddock close to the road... well, people are going to take pictures. Here's another shot:

Then I got to reminiscing about Hallowe'ens of past years. Our two kids always started out by going out with one, if not both, of us around our little village. There certainly are enough houses here to satisfy any trick-or-treaters' needs. I don't have pictures of them when they were very little that I can import into the computer, but here are some fun pictures after we got a digital camera.
Pretty sure I know who would win this fight. 

There seems to be a theme here.
We usually decorate the porch for Hallowe'en. When the kids got older, they helped a lot.

As the kids got older, the look turned more toward gore. This is my daughter's makeup job on my son. 
When you are married to someone who likes to use tools, sometimes carving the pumpking can become a bit unconventional.
witch's fingers cookies!
That last photo is of cookies that I made with the kids one year. They are basically a sugar cookie recipe that you form into finger shapes. You use a sliced almond for the finger nail. If you look closely, you will see one that is supposed to be a toe. Later, one of the kids told me that they didn't really even like these cookies, they grossed them out! Oh well, you don't know until you try.

This year my son is too old to go out trick-or-treating and I don't know what shenanigans my university-aged daughter is going to get up to. My husband and I will take turns getting up off our respective couches to hand out candy at the door to whoever shows up. My husband LOVES the old black and white horror movies, as campy as they are, so no doubt he will want to watch one this evening. I went to the library today, so I will have a couple of books I can read while he is watching his movie and glance up occasionally to see what mummy or dracula is up to no good.

Thursday 29 October 2015

I'm on Mute

So... I have been off work for two days with full blown laryngitis. This has happened before. (I talk a lot in my line of work). I know that all I can really do is just not talk and rest things. It is really frustrating. I do whisper to my family but generally try not to talk at all.

What I have learned from this is that daytime tv, even with lots of channels, leaves a bit to be desired. I have NO books on the go right now. I'm not feeling top of the world (coughing, yucky) so I can't really summon up energy to get much done at home. As I have posted before, I am useless at napping during the day. (Would pay good money to be able to do that).

I intend to return to work tomorrow, but my voice is nowhere close to being back. One year I had laryngitis for about three or four weeks. It was terrible. Hopefully that will not be the case this year.

On a different note, Hallowe'en is Saturday. We are at the end of a dead end street in a small village. We generally only get a small amount of trick-or-treaters, but some years are surprising. I have purchased Hallowe'en treats (and NOT eaten a single one). Hopefully I have enough. I like to hand out more than one thing at a time. Do you get many trick-or-treaters?

Sunday 25 October 2015

Favourite Treats

Why is it when we can't have something, it's all we think about?  I have decided recently to reign in my horrendous eating habits. I am doing something that really worked well for me several years back called "clean eating". It was a fairly new term then, used mostly by those in the fitness industry who were trying to get lean for an event or photo shoot. (I was NOT someone in the fitness industry!)
Now, clean eating is nothing new and all you have to do is search for it on Pinterest and you get more information and recipes than you could possibly read.

So, anyway, here I am, planning my chicken and brown rice and salad, and writing down my meals with my protein and complex carbs and feeling all proud of myself, and Hallowe'en is just around the corner. My strategy for Hallowe'en was always to buy the Hallowe'en mini chocolate bars that I liked in the hopes we wouldn't have many kids and then I would be able to stuff myself with chocolate and a big glass of milk. But this year I have sworn off chocolate altogether, as well as any sugary treats that might be handed out (or not).

So, what are my favourite treats? If it is just in the category of chocolate bars, I would say Skor bar or Caramilk (best if put in the fridge!). My "drug of choice" for sugary treats would be chocolate covered almonds, or those candied peanuts (toffee covered peanuts / beer nuts). I am not a fan of anything "gummy" such as gummy worms. My son likes "fuzzy peaches" but I do not. My husband loved Reese's peanut butter cups. My daughter also likes those. I also do not like hard candies like you would find in a glass bowl at Christmas time, or mints- waste of time, mints.

But not this year.This year I will be eating an apple cut up with natural peanut butter in a spoon for dipping. MMM mmm good.

That's right...avoid the house where they're giving away apples!!

Saturday 17 October 2015

Family Tradition with a Sick Twist

We keep the usual traditions around here : homemade birthday cakes, husband reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" on Christmas Eve, taking pictures on the first day of school, marking measurements on the measuring stick every birthday, turkey at Thanksgiving... 

But we also have a rather odd family tradition. It involves this:

Here's another look:
Charming isn't it? To imagine the size, I have photographed it on top of a wooden kitchen stool.

I don't know how this began, but this delightful severed head was purchased with some Hallowe'en items. My kids loved Hallowe'en. I say "loved" because the rule in our home is you can go trick or treating as long as you are in elementary school. If you are high school aged, you are officially done. (I remember grudgingly handing out candy to a young man who was smoking and his voice had already changed). My husband and the kids often gravitate to the Hallowe'en isles when we are out shopping. They like all the gizmos, gadgets, masks, and costumes. I can take it or leave it.

Anyway, someone started by hiding the head. I can't remember where, or who it was, but then the games were on. All four of us at some point or other have found the head and then hidden the head for someone else to find. This is not limited to Hallowe'en. This head has shown up throughout the entire year. I once found it on the shower head one morning as I was about to get in the shower to get ready for work. Coffee cups, dresser drawers, under pillows... have all been successful hiding spots.

Our daughter came home from university for "reading week" this past week, so naturally, I made up her bed with the head under the sheets. She then hid it for my husband to find. It's always best when it is least expected. So it is wise to allow some time to pass before hiding it again.

This disgusting little item isn't the first thing to be hidden, however. When the kids were much younger we went to the Toronto Zoo. As a momento, each child got a toy from the gift shop. I believe my daughter chose a stuffed snake big enough to wrap around herself, and our son chose "Charles". Who is Charles?

Charles is the silver back male gorilla at the zoo. I hope this is a picture of him, my apologies if it is a different gorilla. The real Charles is mesmerizing.  He is huge and wonderful and seems to know what you are thinking as you look at him through the very thick plexiglass wall. The stuffed toy Charles that my son chose was similar in that it looked quite real with deep brown eyes that seemed to stare back at you.
It wasn't long before someone placed Charles at the top of our stairs to be seen as you were going up the dimly lit staircase to go to bed. Freaky.

Another tradition involving hiding is birthday presents. We have been hiding the kids' birthday presents since they were little and then they would begin the hunt with the encouragement of "warm, warmer, cool, ice cold, getting warmer, you're burning up!!" to help them find presents hidden behind furniture, inside the refrigerator, in the bathtub, under couch cushions, and so on. Honestly, they still enjoy it as teenagers. In fact, they often want to be part of the hiding for the other's birthday, making it more and more difficult.

Hiding Easter eggs is another tradition that our two kids still want, even though they are way too old. I use the plastic eggs and put jelly beans or chocolate eggs inside and hide them all over our one acre property. One year they were each limited to collecting certain colours of eggs, so even if they found an egg, they had to leave it alone if it wasn't their colour.

The head is now in possession of my husband who wants to find the perfect spot for our daughter before she goes back to university on Sunday. Game on.

Monday 12 October 2015

Rose Coloured Glasses

I just love the colours of autumn. We are now seeing more beautiful shades of orange, red, and yellow in the leaves of the trees around us. They were a little late this year, perhaps due to the wonderful warm September that we enjoyed. The maple trees, the sumacs, and burning bush are all in their glory.

When the children were younger I would point out the colours as we drove together. I even commented on the deep golden yellow of the cornfields. As well, I would say how the cows looked so lovely and reddish brown against the green fields. I couldn't understand why the kids weren't oooing and ahhhing about all the pretty colours. Maybe I just appreciated them more.

This would occur the next autumn as well, me going on and on about the beautiful colours. Even the weeds in the ditches were lovely. Yellows and purples complementing each other. The silver maples, showing the silvery undersides of their leaves in the wind were also pretty. The only one who seemed to marvel over these beautiful colours was me.

And then one day my daughter pointed out to me that it was my sunglasses. She said I should take them off. Yes indeed. I'd been seeing the world literally through rose coloured glasses.
Normally I can be a bit of a negative grouch.I don't sugar-coat things, or hand out false complements. I am not one of those constantly happy people who always sees the good in everything. I'm probably somewhere in the middle of complete depressive and insanely joyous. But I really, really loved what the world looked like through those sunglasses. Everything was gorgeous and perfect and technicolour.

When we were on vacation in Cuba one March, I had set down my sunglasses with the rose coloured lenses in a washroom and forgot to pick them up on my way out. When I realized what I had done and went back to the washroom, they were gone. I did bring another pair of sunglasses with me, so I used those instead. When we returned home after the vacation, it wasn't too long before I was looking for another pair of sunglasses through which I could see a perfect world. I do not require designer sunglasses. They do not have to be expensive or act like a status symbol. They just have to be rose coloured.
 These are not my sunglasses.  My first ones were white framed, and my current ones have a tortoise shell frame, but these are cute, too.

Friday 2 October 2015

Teach...your children well...

I borrowed the title of the post from Crosby Stills Nash and Young.

My daughter, away at her second year of university, has taken to sending us pictures of her food. Last year she lived in residence as pretty much all of them do at that particular university. But second year, she is renting a house with three other girls. She now must make her own food and try to be economical at the same time. So far she has sent us a picture of her spaghetti and her "smashed" potatoes. She said they were "like mom's" and she wanted some food that reminded her of home.

Did I do a good enough job preparing my child to make her own meals? Sure I did the cookies, muffins, pancakes thing with my kids when they were little, letting them dump in the various ingredients and stir it around. But did I really insist on her learning the basics? Just because a child is in the kitchen with you doesn't mean they actually know how to make the food you are preparing. A few times, especially in these last couple of years, I would get her in the kitchen and call her attention to something I was doing. I had her peel potatoes, keep watch on onions frying in the pan, that sort of thing. But sometimes I think I should have done more. I do know she can sure make brownies from a boxed mix!!

But then I realize that this generation doesn't actually need to have the hands on experience, because undoubtedly there is a You Tube video which will show them step by step how to make shepherd's pie, or roast a chicken, or can tomatoes (not like she will do any of those while in university).

And my son? Well, he makes a mean sandwich. He does pick up after himself, and both kids know how to properly load a dishwasher! But this year in school, in grade 10, he has taken "Foods". Did he take it because he has a deep interest in how to prepare various dishes? Nope. He just didn't want to take art or music, and foods was the only other option. But I know they have already learned about safe handling of food, how to properly use sharp things, and they've made cookies, spring rolls and salsa.

When I was in elementary school, we had Home Ec. (home economics). Only the girls took home ec. We learned how to sew on a machine (I was already doing that by about age 9 or 10) and how to make meals. I don't think I really learned very much about cooking. I do know that I learned that powdered milk is horrendous stuff and shouldn't be fed to humans. I grew up around women who cooked and made things from scratch. I'm pretty old fashioned in that I still process things in jars and make jam, stew, roasts, and pies. I do not bake my own bread. I have used my bread maker occasionally, but I don't really even do that anymore, although now that I'm writing about it, I think I kind of want to drag it out from wherever I have stored it and have a go at "making" bread again, if you can call it that when you use a breadmaker.

So I am glad that my daughter is attempting some entry level dinners and that she isn't just making microwave popcorn and peanut butter and jam sandwiches. I'm curious to see what the next picture will be!