Saturday 31 December 2016

All the Best in 2017

Sometimes when I am in a tiny rage over something, or worried sick, or anxiously trying to meet a deadline, I try to remind myself of some wisdom that I've picked up from somewhere (again, honestly can't remember from where I gleaned this) and that is to ask myself, will this matter in an hour, in a day, in a month, in a year? I do well to put things into perspective, let things go, move on, remember that "this too shall pass". 

For 2017 I wish to enjoy the small things, appreciate that which surrounds around me, live in the present, and treat myself with the same respect that I treat others.

For my family, my friends, my colleagues, myself, and everyone who pops in to see what's happening in my world, I hope that the new year brings the basics that truly matter: good health, love, confidence, recognition, appreciation, honesty, gratitude, and contentment.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday 30 December 2016

Zombie Progression

If you read my last post, you may know I have a zombie in a bowl on my kitchen counter growing a little bit more every day. Some of you asked to see the zombie once it got six hundred times its original size. I rather doubt that will happen, but I have taken some pictures.

What else have I been doing besides watching a pale green zombie grow and googling articles on how to stop binge eating? Well, two days after I saw my entire extended family, I got to see them again. We drove over two hours to the city where two of my siblings live. My 91 year old aunt was visiting from Saskatchewan and a cousin I haven't seen in 30 years was also going to be there. It was nice. I also embarrassingly called a different cousin by her sister's name. She kindly corrected me and I thought, "Oh my god, I'm becoming my mother." My mother messed up my name on a pretty regular basis. My grandmother did the same. And now, so am I. At least with my own two children I don't interchange their names and perhaps that is only because one is a girl and the other is a boy.

My 91 year old aunt looks pretty much like my grandmother (her own mother), as did my own mother at the end of her life. I turned to my sister and asked, "Is that how we are going to end up, too?" Maybe that is the way of things. Maybe in our family, you know you are at the end of your life here on earth when you start to look like Emma.

We did some 'big city shopping' because our son has the misfortune of having a birthday that is quite close to Christmas, so he now knows what he is getting for his birthday because he picked it out and tried it on already. My two children are a bit different with their clothes. My daughter is not necessarily a slave to the "brand" of clothes. She can usually purchase a few items, maybe even find some bargains with the money she has. My son, on the other hand, prefers certain brands and gets a small amount of key items that he wears frequently. Each method seems to work for them.

I have not yet started deconstructing Christmas and packing up the twelve boxes of Christmas. I would like to start, but I feel that maybe I should wait until our daughter goes back to university on the 2nd. I kind of dread it. It is such a pain to repack everything. I've written on the big Rubbermaid bins what the contents are, so I am obligated to repack them the same way, as opposed to just chucking stuff in random boxes as I take it off shelves and table tops.

This post continues on to the next day. I was woken this morning by the sound of the Indy 500 snowplow driver, and again by our "snowblower guy" who comes with his tractor and snowblower to clear our lane and our neighbour's lane, and then once again by a tail-less fluffy black and white creature who meowed in my face and stood on my pillow. So, I'm up now, even though I don't have to be and I shall read your blogs to find out what you've been doing and if Christmas is completely over in your homes.

Tuesday 27 December 2016


And so this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year older, and a new one just begun. (Thanks, John Lennon)

I wouldn't mind joining Santa on a beach right now. But I'll need to stop eating chocolate.

We had two Christmases (spelling??) this year. On actual Christmas day, it was the four of us and my MIL who is residing at a senior's home in our area. It was a quiet day, but nice. I made a big spiral cut ham that I'd purchased on sale a while ago and had frozen. I also made potatoes Grand Mere (sounds impressive, but I found it on Pinterest), carrots, peas, and rolls. For dessert was pumpkin pie and for just husband and his mother (who has been known to say about desserts, "you wouldn't want it too sweet") a Christmas pudding with sauce. Personally, I have no issues with something being "too sweet" and I find (sorry to those of you who read this and have a different taste) Christmas pudding to be vile. The same goes for fruit cake. It's like someone said, "Hmmm, what is the worst part of a citrus fruit? Yes, the peel. So we shall honour it and put it into a cake. And not make it too sweet." My daughter and I agree that the only good thing about fruit cake is the marzipan icing.

I degress. Then on Boxing Day, I had my side of the family. We totalled sixteen people. We were neither small nor quiet. There was so much food just for appetizers that I fear maybe we didn't save enough room for the actual dinner. However, that did not stop us. The meal consisted of the turkey (thank you to my brother for carving it -  a job that I don't enjoy), stuffing, mashed potatoes (which sat quietly in their pot on the stove until my other brother said, "Where are the mashed potatoes?" and I answered with "sh!t" and let people know there was a whole pot of them and they should go back and get some), gravy (thank you to my sister for making that while everything else was being drained and put in serving dishes), carrots, Brussel sprouts, green bean casserole, turnip casserole (thank you to SIL for bringing that), rolls, and cranberry sauce. Three types of pie were brought by my SIL for dessert. There was plenty of wine and beer for those who wished it, as well as there being a real run on the Soda stream machine for carbonated water. (Blehhh!! - not a fan).

We've stopped exchanging gifts for a few years now and I enjoy not having to run around and try to buy for the extended family and usually failing miserably in my gift choices. It was a boisterous, enjoyable time yesterday. My sister and SIL stepped right in to help out and both wanted to stay and wash up pots and platters for me, but I honestly don't mind the clean up afterwards. It puts a nice finish to the chaos. I put through three loads of dishes in the dishwasher and did some hand washing and wiped my counters. It feels wonderful to be done.

I have had a glorious day of sleeping in a bit, finishing a couple more kitchen clean up jobs, staying in my pajamas far too long, and sitting by the tree. My husband made me breakfast and I luxuriated with Netflix and watched another episode of Midsomer Murders (I'm a bit obsessed at the moment).

We have more leftovers in the house than necessary but we all love a reheated turkey dinner after the turkey dinner. My son was so very happy to see that there were still home made cookies left over and assembled himself a plate before getting ready to go work a shift at his part time job.

I shall leave you with this image. In his stocking, son received a small green zombie, which when put in water and left for several days, is said to increase in size 600 times. It was originally about 2 or 3 cm in length. It floated about in a small mixing bowl on the kitchen counter while the flurry of activity was going on and I think it was my sister who said, "I have to ask...what the hell is that thing?"

Sunday 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Times are different now that we have a 16 and 20 year old. Nobody wakes us up at 6:30 in the morning to open presents. It is now 8:50 a.m. and so far it's just Scooter and I. I'm drinking coffee and he's playing with his jingly ball. I may have to wake everyone up myself!

All the best to everyone out there in blog land. I hope you all have a safe, happy, healthy Christmas with delicious food and good company.

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Christmas Traditions Part 2

I want to share with you some more Christmas decorating traditions in our home. I always create what I call a "gold display" somewhere in my home, usually in the livingroom which feels a bit more formal (though, nothing is seriously formal in this house!).

This display features two tall gold-coloured pillar candle stick holders, two reindeer, a sleigh with assorted balls, beads, and sprays, a large glass vase with burgundy, gold and green balls in it, and a Santa figurine.

Another display is created on a shelf that I clear on one of our bookshelves (that the husband made, he's very handy). This one has an old-fashioned vibe to it.

The main figure is that of a resting Santa beside a phonograph player (which unfortunately broke off years ago). My mother gave each of us the same Santa. She did that a lot when we got older. If she found something good, she bought four of them and gave us each one. There are also snowmen and Victorian looking children that have a bit of a sparkle to them. Propped up as a backdrop are two vintage books. My husband always read The Night Before Christmas to our kids on Christmas Eve.

I've written about our village already. I really wanted to cut back on the decorating this year because I'm working almost right up until Christmas and have been rather busy with things, but sixteen year old son said we had to have the village again this year. (It's funny, you don't think they care about these things until you don't do them anymore). So, this year my husband and son actually carried down the multiple boxes which contain the village, the "snow", and figures and the lights and they cleared the shelves from the sideboard and created the village.

I noticed yesterday that the lights in the Christmas Shop (in the bottom row) aren't on. Maybe business has been slow and they couldn't pay their electricity bill! There are even traditions having to do with the village itself. There is a Santa figure and it ALWAYS has to go in the pavilion (behind the bridge).

Our Christmas tree must be real. There would be mutiny if it was an artificial tree. We almost always go together to pick out a tree. Over the years, we have occasionally gone to cut our own tree as well. That was always fun. When we get it home, my husband cuts a bit of the trunk off at the bottom so the tree will "drink" the water better. He fixes it into the stand. I put on the lights. Our daughter usually does the beads. I continue with the ribbon, and then all four of us put on the ornaments. We have collected so many pretty ornaments that we don't even put them all on anymore. My husband jokes that we need a second tree. He, in fact, is often the one to buy a few new ornaments each year.

Tonight I will be baking. How about you? Are you all prepared? Are you a real tree family, or artificial? Do your children still ask for certain holiday traditions?

Monday 19 December 2016

A Beautiful Sunny Afternoon and Christmas Traditions Part 1

After all the stormy days and freezing rain we have been through, today turned out to be one of those days where you actually like winter. The sun was pouring in the windows and the late afternoon shadows were magical and blue.

We have a number of Christmas traditions that we started as a family which were not necessarily traditions that I grew up with, but are definitely part of our children's lives. One such tradition is Christmas stockings. My own family did not put out stockings, but I am glad that is part of our kids' memories. We each have a stocking with different needlepoint pictures on them. My own is of a very traditional Santa outside in the snow with woodland animals around him. This is very much in keeping with my preferences. I am a sucker for bunny rabbits and small furry things. My husband's stocking shows Tudor houses and carolers on the street. This is perfect for him as a big part of his youth was travelling to England with his own family. My daughter's stocking shows toys like a rocking horse, teddy bear and doll house. In the background is a Christmas tree with an angel on the top. This stocking is perfect for her because she always puts the angel on the top of our tree. Finally, my son's stocking has a Christmas nutcracker figure with a horn, drum, and ornaments around it. This is especially suitable because he receives a nutcracker every year at Christmas.

The stockings currently hang from pegs below a shelf that was in my parents' home. When they are filled on Christmas Eve they will be too heavy to hang so they will be laid under the tree.

On the shelf itself are some of my Santas that I have collected over the years. One of them is my daughter's and I am now starting to create a collection for her.

Here are some of the nutcrackers in my son's "army" as he refers to them. They have evolved over the years from small little figures that fit in his stockings, to larger, more ornate ones. There are always many to choose from in the stores now, so picking one out is fun.

This past week has been somewhat crazy with storms, going out of town to a wedding, trying to finish my shopping, and finally putting up and decorating our tree. I'm getting to the point where I can relax a little and enjoy my surroundings. I hope everyone is also having fun and enjoying their time right now, perhaps getting together with friends and family.

Thursday 15 December 2016

Share Your Worst Driving Stories

I went to work today and drove through white outs on the way there. All the while I was getting more and more angry at myself for succumbing to the guilt of going into work rather than staying put at home. The roads are unsafe today. Roads started closing yesterday due to blowing snow. They continue to close even more roads today.

When I drove home, I drove through more white outs and now drifting. I had my high beams on and my four way flashers so everyone could see I was there, even though nobody couldn't see what was on the road a few meters ahead of the vehicle. I got home and made a decaf coffee with a shot of fake Baileys in it.

However, my worst driving experience was about twenty years ago on a more major highway (but not multi-lane). I was pregnant with my first baby. The snow had just started to come down right when everyone was leaving work. It was incredibly thick. I started out to drive home which was in the next town. As I drove, the snow got thicker until it felt like someone had dropped a white blanket on my car. I could see NOTHING. I couldn't stop because nobody would see me and they could run into me. I could not really drive forward because at this point I did not know which side of the road I was on, or if I was going around the bend in the road that I knew was coming up. I just had to creep forward, little bit by little bit, all the while whimpering a bit. This kept up for a while and I was sure I was either going to hit someone, or they would hit me, or I would end up in the ditch. The snow let up enough that I could tell there was a laneway to my right and I pulled into it. There was a house there and someone came out and asked me if I wanted to come in. I sat at their kitchen table drinking tea with another person who had also found their laneway and took refuge. After a while, the snow diminished and I was able to drive the rest of the way home. I had never felt so helpless and vulnerable on the road before, or since.

I've spent Christmas Eve at a family friends' when I was in my teens and couldn't make it home safely from a part time job. We've taken in strangers on New Years Eve because they couldn't safely drive any further. I currently have an extra teenager in my home whose road is closed and her bus couldn't take her home.

Share your worst driving experience. If you are not from a snowy area, maybe you've driven through hurricane-like winds or a horrible lightning storm. It is coming through these moments that gives you something to talk about when the next storm happens (and you're sitting at the table with someone who couldn't get home because it was so bad).


Sunday 11 December 2016

Ta Daaaa!!

It has officially been one week since I started shoving furniture aside and putting down sheets and tarps. I have been up and down a stepladder more times than I can remember. I successfully kept cats out of the paint and did not have any serious mishaps. And now, finally, one week later, the den is painted. It went from this...

to this.

Our furniture stayed in all the same places, but the wooden shelf got moved from above the tv to above the love seat. It is empty right now, but it will have Christmasy type things on it soon. As well, we used to have two collections of framed family photos, but I felt it was time to change up the look, so currently our walls are very bare. We are going to take our time putting anything on the walls until we find pieces that are just right, suitable to the casual, slightly masculine feel of this room.

Someone commented that they thought a "den" would be an underground room. This room is on the main floor, although you do step down into it. This originally was the summer kitchen of the house. It had been poorly converted into part of the living space when we bought the house. My husband ripped everything out and rebuilt it properly. We added the wood stove as well. It is a comfortable, put your feet up and watch tv kind of room.

Now that it is done, I am indeed putting my feet up and enjoying a glass.

Now, onto the weather... Today I did not travel to do the last of my Christmas shopping because all of the weather sites that I saw on the "interweb" warned of special weather advisories and accumulation of 10 to 15 cm. As well, the radar showed a giant blob rising up from the southwest across our area, to hit about noon. As it turned out, the weather has only just hit in the last hour or so (it's now 6:15 p.m.), so I'm thinking I probably could have gone anyway and just taken my chances that I wouldn't get caught in it coming home. Oh well, this way I got the den totally done, cleaned up, everything put away and dealt with.

Tonight I will either start moving the "Twelve Boxes of Christmas" out of their storage room, ready to start decorating, or I will start baking. (Or, maybe I will stay planted on the couch because quite frankly, it is tiring doing this home revamp stuff!)

I took this picture the morning after the snowy night picture I took in the last blog.

This picture is facing the same direction but it looks nice and fluffy and friendly with the sun shining on it.

But here we go again.

No, this is not the same picture as the last post. It's more of the same.

It's a good night to stay in and decorate, or bake, or not do anything at all.

Thursday 8 December 2016

'Cuz I'm Not Busy Enough

I've been reading many peoples' posts where they show their beautifully decorated homes, ready for Christmas. I love seeing how they put colours and themes together. There are some incredibly creative and artistic people out there.

This year I am hosting Christmas for my side of the family. I also work almost right up until Christmas, leaving me with little time to get things ready, including shopping, baking, and decorating. As well, we are attending an out of town wedding on the 17th of this month, negating a full day to accomplish many tasks.

So, what should I NOT be doing right now? That would be repainting the den. Which is exactly what I am doing. The cans of paint have been sitting out in the mudroom, and I pass them every day, and have passed them every day for months now. I think it was the fact that I was hosting Christmas that I thought, now is the time to get my act together and paint the den.

I am doing this the lazy girl way. I did not clear out the whole room which would mean moving two couches, one big coffee table, one matching craftsman style cupboard, and a leather recliner to different rooms. Instead, I shove everything to one side of the room, throw sheets and other covers over surfaces I want to protect, and paint one wall at a time, moving furniture as I work around the room.

The den has been this sage green colour for  a long time. I have already taken down pictures and started dismantling in this picture.

The walls were getting pretty dinged up and I was tired of the colour. I wanted something more neutral.
So, the pictures came off the walls, husband filled and sanded, and I cut in and painted every night, wall by wall.

I wrapped garbage bags around the wood stove. It was very finicky painting around behind it. I really had to contort and squat and squeeze myself into tight spaces, but that part is done. You can see the wall colour. It is called "sponge cake". The sixteen year old son said to me, "Mom, did you  mean for it to be the same colour as the kitchen?" The answer would be no, I did not try to choose the same colour as the kitchen, in fact I thought I chose something a bit more beige / tan / neutral, but apparently I chose almost the same colour as the kitchen. Oh well, I must like it.

In this picture you can see the old sage green compared to the new tan (i.e. kitchen colour). I will paint out the door the same as the wall colour.

I think I will definitely be done everything by the end of the weekend. I am really hoping the weather behaves itself this weekend so I can run around and get shopping and other things done. However, currently it is SNOWING out there!! Have a look.

I always look out to the front of the property where there is one lonely street light. You can really tell what's happening out there when you look at the snow flying either diagonally or horizontally past the street light. It is thick out there and we have what is called a "red screen" on the weather channel. That means snow squalls.

If you don't have to drive in it, it is actually quite pretty.

Sunday 4 December 2016

A Humbling Experience

Yesterday, the husband and I were shopping. He needed new clothes to wear to an upcoming wedding and we were doing a little bit of Christmas shopping at the same time. I was in Winners (which I think would be like an American T.J. Max - discounted clothes, housewares, shoes, etc.) and noticed a rack of bathing suits. We will likely be going away somewhere warm this winter and I thought I could really use a new bathing suit (are you guessing where this is going?).

Can I just say that trying on bathing suits for all but the most beautiful of our species must be one of the most humbling, hideous experiences out there? Standing in the change room with my sock marks on my calves, bright white skin contrasting with what must be new veins, and the thought, "Remember when I thought I was fat, when I was sixteen? What I would give to be that "fat" now," going through my mind, I got the nerve up to wrestle into three different styles of bathing suits.


Here's a question. Do you still wear a two piece bathing suit? Notice I did not say bikini because the thought of skinny straps and triangles of lycra is just too much for me at this age. There is also the "tankini" where by you don respectable bottoms and a top that comes down to meet the bottoms, so two pieces, but in a covered up way. Tankinis are fine as long as the top actually does meet the bottom because the last thing you want is a rogue roll to pop up between top and bottom.

The trying on experience was a depressing one with me getting somewhat stuck with the inner underwire type bra-lette flipped up inside the top of the bathing suit, poking above the neckline and then having to reach up from underneath to flip it over and pry it down between fabric and my flesh. I had a similar moment with a yoga top in the past. The whole thing made me regret that Wendy's bacon deluxe I had just enjoyed an hour ago. As I peeled off pieces and snapped elasticised straps, I started to mentally promise myself I would start working out again, eat more salads, cut back on my wine (?).

In the end, under the interrogation lights of the change room, I decided on an excellently priced ONE PIECE, which would contain the relatively newly acquired lumps and sags of my fifty-year old body, but would do nothing to hide my thighs (not even going to go there).

I honestly wouldn't mind if this came back in style.


Friday 2 December 2016


After work today, the husband and I bundled our little cross between a panda bear and a guinea pig with some capybara thrown in there into his cat cage and drove him to the small town where he had his tail amputation two weeks ago. He has been doing very well. We still couldn't let him outdoors until his stitches came out, and tonight was the night!

The vet said he still had some swelling and they drained some fluid to help with the swelling. His stitches were removed but there is still a little healing to be done, so they gave him some more long lasting antibiotics and said we should keep him in for another week or so. We will take him back in about a week for a final check up.  They were suggesting we take (purchase) a "cone of shame" in case he started licking and opening things up, but he honestly hasn't bothered with it so far, so no thank you, we will hold off on purchasing a cone. Besides, he is such a little idiot, he would probably cram himself into something and get stuck because of his cone, then we'd come home from work and have to deal with whatever mess he got himself into.

Here he is, eating, which was the only way I was going to get a picture of him staying still. You can see the tiny stump of a tail.

He is also sporting  a manly scar on his nose.

Of course, they shaved his fur around his bottom end, so he looks rather odd. I think it will be better once his long fur starts to grow back.

This is how he used to look: mostly tail. Oh well. That's how it goes. He has eight lives left.

While we were in the little town taking care of veterinary things, we stopped off at a local restaurant for supper. Scooter was tucked in with a towel and a blanket in his cage, so he was fine. We both had experienced long weeks at work and were happy to have a beer and some good food. I had the French Onion steak melt on a ciabatta bun. It was sooo good, served with a little bowl of French onion soup for dipping. I "upgraded" to sweet potato fries on the side. I was in serious drippy, gooey, savoury heaven.

When we left the restaurant we walked past a quaint storefront of a pharmacy that retained its history and charm. They had a Christmas scene set up in the front window.

It was a nice little scene with Santa by the chimney, but the neat thing was it was animated.

The cat rolled around in Santa's sack.

The dog wagged its tail (huh, I guess it's happy to have a tail!).

And this elf kept pointing at the pocket watch, letting Santa know he didn't have time to sleep on the job.

I hope the little ones who live in this town stand at the window and enjoy the magic of the season. I know I would have loved something like this when I was a child.

It reminded me of going with my father to a hardware store in the town where we would do our shopping (we lived out in the country). At the sales counter, there was a little contraption where you placed a coin in the slot and a little dog would come out of the dog house and take the coin and retreat back into his dog house. I loved it and would ask my father to do this whenever we would go in that store.

Tonight is basketball night. It is so fun watching these house league games now that the boys are older and much more skilled. I love it when the score is close and both teams are really fighting for their points. Son scored two three-pointers last game. His girlfriend is coming to watch tonight, so maybe we'll see a few more fancy moves and a couple more baskets!