Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Random Ramblings


  • Welp.  I bought a new car.  Woo hoo!!  My little red Focus was good to me for exactly seven years, but I was ready to trade her in.  That said, I was dreading the process.  I just remember it being extremely stressful the last time, and I was not looking forward to going through that again.  (Granted, my Rav 4 at the time was literally dying so I was under pressure, I was not very well off financially, and it was less than a year after my dad passed away.  We were still navigating life without him, and he was always a big part of car shopping in our family, so... it kind of sucked.)  
  • This time around: totally different story.  I walked into our local Ford dealership, discussed what I was interested in, and within an hour of starting the conversation, they had found something that worked for me.  A week later, this past Friday, I picked up my new 2019 Ford Escape.  It has more bells and whistles than I normally could afford, but because it was last year's model, it was discounted.  So far, I'm loving it.  Having this done so smoothly & painlessly is such a relief!!
  • Last week, I finished crocheting what I had come to call "The Beast".  It was a Cosy Stripe afghan pattern that I loved the look of.  I started it last winter, but as it progressed, I realized the starting chain was massive and that this blanket was going to be WAY bigger than the "throw" I intended it to be.  It was more like the size of a double bed.  Eventually, I grew sick of it, and put it aside for other projects.  But over the holidays, I dug it back out, determined to finish it off.  And finally - after weaving in 8 million ends, which are my absolute LEAST favourite part about crocheting - I finished it.  Phewf.  And I love it, despite the tedious time it took to complete it. It is now set aside, ready for Shawville Fair!
  • After finishing The Beast, I moved on to probably the strangest project I have ever tackled:  crocheting a boob.  Literally.  A friend of mine is taking a course to become a lactation consultant, and apparently they use crocheted or knitted breasts in the course.  They already had some, but not enough for the whole class.  So I crocheted her a boob.  I still can't believe I was able to find a pattern - but there are lots of them out there, and most specify that it's for lactation consultants, so I guess it's a thing!  
  • THEN I moved on to crocheting a toque pattern that I've had for a long time and really wanted to try.  I made some severe crochet rookie mistakes, though.  The yarn I'd picked out to match my coat was a much bulkier yarn than what the pattern called for.  I went ahead with it anyways.  Also, this yarn was not only bulky, but it was also a dark colour with a silver thread running through it - a total bitch to work with.  It was a pain to crochet with, and if you had to tear it back, it would get snagged and the yarn would rip.  UGH.  And then, in the end, I decided my head just does not look right with a slouchy toque.  It just doesn't suit me, no matter how much I wish it did. *sigh* They can't all be winners.  On to the next project...
  • It's the time of year when I let my creative juices flow.  This past Saturday, I attended an alcohol ink workshop at my neighbour artist friend Shannon's.  I absolutely adored this technique.  So much so that I've been pricing and considering buying my own supplies ever since.  The afternoon was so relaxing and enjoyable!!
  • I have been watching SO. MUCH. NETFLIX.  Over the past week or so, I started and finished You.  I didn't love it.  I wanted to, but it ended up just being mostly background noise while I crocheted or worked on my puzzle.  Then this past Saturday evening, I dove into Killer Inside: The Mind Of Aaron Hernandez.  I was SO intrigued by this docu-series.  I mean, I don't pay a lot of attention to the NFL, but if I did, I could see myself having been a fan of the guy. He was pretty handsome.  I imagined being a fan of his, and then having to see him as a murderer... it would have been hard.  Anyways, it was really interesting to watch, and to try and figure out what exactly made the guy tick.  Then, of course, came his sad demise, as he hung himself in prison.  Such a tragic story of a guy who had it all.
  • I've also been back into listening to podcasts while I crochet, since I find it too difficult to try and follow a pattern while also paying attention to TV.  I've been listening to Dr. Death while I crochet, and it is great.  Almost makes me wonder if I should look into audio books.  I could kill two birds with one stone - "reading" while I crochet.
  • I'm currently reading Into the Abyss by Carol Shaben, which is one of our book club reads, and I'm really enjoying it. It is based on the true story of a plane crash that happened in northern Alberta in 1984.  I was only a year old at the time, so I have absolutely no recollection of the event, but apparently it was a big story across the country at the time.   It's been a very interesting read.
  • On Monday, I forced myself out into the crisp clear cold to go snowshoeing for the first time this year.  I know.  How sad is that?  One of my favourite activities, and I hadn't been out even once yet!  But we really haven't had enough snow until the dumping we got this past weekend.  Conditions on Monday were PERFECT.  Not too deep, just enough snow, and the wind wasn't too bad in the field behind my mom's house.  (It can be extremely windy back there).  I felt GREAT.  Until I pulled a muscle.  The more I shoed, the more I kept feeling this tweak, and it progressively got worse, and I was so frigging mad.  Here I am, TRYING to be active, and the universe just won't co-operate.  How am I supposed to lose weight when every time I try to be active, my back tweaks or I pull a muscle?  Frustrating.  Thankfully, the tweak already seems better, so hopefully it wasn't as big a deal as I initially thought.  I might even try to get back out there snowshoeing tonight.


Well, I feel like I haven't rambled in a while and I could keep going, but this is already long, so let's cap it there!  Happy Wednesday friends!! :)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

My Faves of 2019

We might be half-way through the first month of 2020, but I'm not quite done reflecting on 2019 yet!!  I realized from browsing through old blog posts that last year I did a re-cap on my favourite books, movies, tv shows and music of the year before, and I had fun looking back on that.  So let's do it again!!

Here are my favourites of 2019:

Movies:

Yesterday
Dumbo
Aladdin
The Lion King
It: Chapter 2
Downton Abbey
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil & Vile

It seems that as I get older, I see more kids movies in theatre than adult movies!  I loved all that Disney brought us this year with the live-action Dumbo (Sam's birthday outing), Aladdin (family outing), and The Lion King (another family outing on my summer holidays).  I was so excited to see Yesterday in theatres, as I thought the premise was so neat and I love The Beatles.  It: Chapter 2 was a little disappointing, but it was my first time at a drive-in so that was memorable regardless!  And after watching Downton Abbey on Netflix a few winters ago, I couldn't wait to see the movie in theatres (Lindsay's birthday outing).
Extremely Wicked was a Netflix movie starring Zac Efron that I got sooo sucked into, and strangely, seeing Zac Efron as a serial killer made him insanely more attactive to me.  Weird.

Here's what I'm looking forward to at the box office in 2020:

Little Women (I know it's already out, but I didn't get to see it over the holidays and I'm still hoping to get there before it's gone)
A Quiet Place Part II (March)
Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (April)
The Woman in the Window (May)
Top Gun: Maverick (June!!!!!!!)

TV:

Game of Thrones
Big Little Lies
Castle Rock
The Handmaid's Tale
Dirty John
When They See Us
Unbelievable
The Ranch
Nailed It!
Dolly Parton's Heartstrings
Don't F*** With Cats

This is just a sampling of the TV I consumed during 2019!  I started out in January by subscribing to Crave, a streaming service here in Canada that offers a lot of content you can't get on Netflix or Prime.  I was SO disappointed with their service, though.  I watched 6 seasons of GoT, Big Little Lies season 1, Castle Rock season 1, and The Handmaid's Tale before I gave up on it.  So not user friendly, and not well supported by my internet speed.  It was a waste of money, especially since the basic package didn't allow me to watch "new" stuff - I had to upgrade for an extra $10 a month... uh, no way jose!! So I never got to see the end of GoT, but I really don't friggin care.  Netflix provided me with ample content, with favourites being the limited series or docu-series' When They See Us, Unbelievable, and Don't F*** with Cats.  I also got into The Ranch and while it took a long time to catch with me, I finally got into it by season 3.  Also, leading up to Christmas I finally gave Nailed It! a shot and I LOVED it.  Pure mindless entertainment!!  Of course, there were lots of other bits and pieces here and there - a season of Shameless, a season of Outlander, Fuller House, etc. - but they are ongoing lol.

What I'm hoping to watch in 2020:

You (already in progress)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Peaky Blinders
Grace & Frankie
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Schitts Creek
Virgin River and Spinning Out (already watched the first seasons of these shows in 2020 - hoping for second seasons of both!!!)

Books:

11/22/63 by Stephen King
The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Yes, you see that correctly - TWO Stephen King books in one year!  One to start the year, and one to end it.  And I really enjoyed both, they were highlights of my reading year.  I actually read 15 books this year, but this list are the ones that really stood out to me; the ones that I would recommend. 

What I'm looking forward to reading this year:

Into the Abyss by Carol Shaben (already in progress)
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
The Institute by Stephen King
The Chain by Adrian McKinty
The Child by Fiona Barton

There are SO many books on my shelf that I'm dying to get to - this is just a small snippet!  My goal is to read 15 books this year.  My system for the past few years has been to start with book club selections then move on to the rest.  I've already finished my first book of the year (started before Christmas, but finished in 2020) and I've already read the first book club book, so I'm on to the second one and really enjoying it.  I aim to make time for reading every day, since it's a hobby I truly enjoy.

Music:

Somebody's Daughter /Jersey on the Wall - Tenille Townes
You Say - Lauren Daigle
GIRL - Maren Morris
Whiskey Glasses (and many others) - Morgan Wallen
Take It All Back - Judah & The Lion
How I Want Ya - Hudson Thames ft. Hailee Steinfeld
Down to the Honkytonk - Jake Owen
Knockin Boots - Luke Bryan
Ladies in the '90's - Lauren Alaina
I Don't Care/ Beautiful People/ South of the Border - Ed Sheeran & guests
ME!/You Need to Calm Down/Lover/Paper Rings/London Boy - Taylor Swift
Memories - Maroon 5
Old Town Road - Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus
Beer Never Broke My Heart/Even Though I'm Leaving - Luke Combs
One Thing Right - Marshmello ft. Kane Brown
Circles - Post Malone
Old Hat - Jon Pardi
Redesigning Women/Loose Change/Crowded Table/Wheels of Laredo - The Highwomen
Good As Hell/Juice/Truth Hurts - Lizzo

You guys know I've always got the tunes going.  I love having music on while I clean or cook or bake or dance or ANYTHING!!  My big musical discoveries of 2019 go to Tenille Townes, Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs, The Highwomen, and Lizzo.  I also spent a lot of time with old faves Ed Sheeran and T.Swift, thanks to album drops from both of them.  But perhaps the most memorable of 2019 was not necessarily my favourite song, but hearing my nephew Noah ask repeatedly for "Horses in the Back" (Old Town Road) and watching him dance around to it.  Boy loves his Horses in the Back!!

My 2020 discovery so far: Tyler Childers.  I signed up for Apple Music, and thus far most of my listening time has gone to him.  Love.

Well, I think that's finally a wrap on the holiday/re-cap posts!  So ready to dive in to all the 2020 pop culture!! ;)


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

2020: Setting Intentions

A new year always comes with the urge to make resolutions.  For me, it has almost always been the same one, or some variation of it:  Lose weight! Get skinny!  Be more active!  Be healthier!

And 9 times out of 10... I have failed.  Miserably.

A few years ago, I stopped making resolutions and started just jotting down a list of intentions for the year.  Hopes, dreams, and goals to keep in mind as the days turn into months. Things to be mindful of and keep me on the right path, or make my path better.  Some are very practical.  Some are hoop dreams.  Sometimes I forget about them.  Sometimes I go back in my journal throughout the year to refresh my memory.  And several have been written year after year because I never do them, and who knows, maybe I never will.

As I sat down on New Year's Day to write my intentions for 2020, I first went back to my 2019 list and checked off what I had actually accomplished.  I surprised myself.  I would say at least half of my list got checked off, which is more than I've been able to do other years.  2019 was pretty darn good!!

So I thought I would share some of my 2020 intentions and the reasons behind them, in the hopes that it will drill them into my brain even more, and keep me even more mindful of them going forward.


Get under 200 lbs. 
Oh, might as well get it out of the way.
One of my 2019 goals was simply to "move more", and while you might not think that worked out so well just by looking at me, I did actually move more in 2019.  And I feel so much better for it.  My knees work better, my heart is happier, and my overall physical ability and energy is improved simply by getting up half an hour early in the morning to do a light workout, and making sure I get a lunchtime walk in whenever possible.  I worked to reach 10,000 steps a day, and while I was often unsuccessful, I was at least mindful of it pretty much every day.  So I thought I'd try to take it a step further this year and really take aim at some of this weight I'm carrying around.  People say to set realistic goals, so I'm just going to say that I'd be really happy to be under 200 lbs. at this point.  And that's a loftier goal than I'd like to admit, but I know if I got serious about it, it's also very doable.  Now if only I could get serious about it...

Buy new blinds
This is one of the goals that keeps getting bumped from year to year, but I'm determined this year to make it happen.  My main living room would so get a boost by new sets of vertical blinds, in white.  I painted the walls grey quite a few years ago now, and the drab old beige blinds have never looked right since.  They are ancient and it's time for them to go!

Buy a new car
Already in the works - stay tuned!!

Do money saving challenge, but in reverse
For several years now, I have done that weekly money saving challenge.  Week 1 = $1.  Week 2 = $2.  And so on, until at the end of the year, if you've been diligent, you should have over $1300 saved.  Some years I've dipped into it before the end of the year, but last year I didn't, and it was so nice to have that extra money to pay off Christmas and add a little to my savings.  But those last few weeks - the $50, $51, $52 weeks during the Christmas season - suck big time.  I decided to flip it and start there now, when I actually have a little cash saved up and money isn't so tight.  So far, so good!

Keep crocheting - maybe selling?? (and finish The Beast!!)
OK, so I added that part on about The Beast after the fact, but it has become my Everest, and I am working hard at conquering it!  I remember when I started The Beast last winter (actually a Cosy Stripes afghan), and the starting chain for the pattern was 196.  I thought, Hmm, that seems really big.  Well guess what.  It IS.  I have only done small throws and baby blankets prior to this, and I swear I'll never attempt another blanket this large ever again.  It's not hard to do - just so tedious.  I eventually set it aside last year to move on to other projects, but over the holidays, I picked it back up and I'm now in the process of weaving the 8 million ends.  *sigh*  I know it will feel good when it's done, though, and I can't wait to dive in to some other projects when it is!!

Also, I decided to try out a Temperature Blanket.  It's a crochet fad that has you record the highs every day for a year, have a yarn colour associated for certain temperatures, and watch as it grows and changes colour!  Neat concept.  However, very early on I realized that a blanket that has 365 rows is, quite frankly, MASSIVE. For reference, the aforementioned Beast has only about 200 rows.  I have decided to scale back and only pick three days a week to crochet a row.  It should make the blanket more reasonable in size, and still have a neat variation of colours.

Up PAR Givings
These are my pre-authorized remittances to the church.  I signed up many years ago and have never "upped" my givings, though I have intended to for quite a while.  I really need to make that happen.

Make Danica's scrapbook
Ohhhh Danica's scrapbook.  LOL!  I made a terrible mistake of making a scrapbook for her older brother of his first year, and gave it to him on his second Christmas.  He is now 14.  Danica was born a few years later, and she has been waiting for her scrapbook ever since.  (Not to mention Neve and Noah!)  I actually bought the supplies and organized the pictures for Danica's, but I have never actually gone ahead and made it.  Which is sad, because she actually would really appreciate it.  Maybe this year... ?

But first... I must clean the junk room.
My crafting/scrapbooking room long ago turned into the junk room.  I couldn't find a place to work on that scrapbook in the state it's in right now even if I wanted to.  I swore my winter project this year was to clean out the junk room.  So far, we are 15 days in to 2020 and all I've done is move all the empty Amazon boxes to the recycling bin.  I guess that's better than nothing, but it's barely a drop in the bucket.  I really do need to get at it. It's embarrassing.

Read 15 Books
I love to read, but I am not a fast reader, and I have struggled with what goal to set for reading each year.  Long ago, I tried for 20 and didn't even come close.  For a few years, I tried for 10 and reached it no problem.  I have done 15 for the past few years and it seems to be the most attainable while still being a challenge.

Host a Sip & Sign
I have been wanting to do one of these for a few years, and there's a lady in town who does them now, so I'm hoping to set up an evening with some friends in the next few months!

Paint with Shannon again!
My neighbour Shannon used to have paint nights at her place, and they were AWESOME.  I loved painting with Shannon.  But then she kind of quit doing them, and then she moved away for a while, and I was worried I'd never paint again.  BUT!  She's back!!  Her first painting was sooo good, but I never managed to find a time during the holiday season to get there to paint it.  I'm booked in for an alcohol ink workshop this Saturday, though, and I'll be watching for other opportunities to come, because I so miss painting!

Those are some of the big goals on my list that I'm really thinking about.  There are others - write more, play guitar more, spend time with family, enhance the hygge, but they kind of speak for themselves.

What are YOUR goals or intentions for 2020??  Hope you are all having a great year so far. :)

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

The Holiday Recap

Happy New Year, blog pals!!  Hard to believe it's not only 2020, but already 8 days in at that!

I had an awesome holiday season, so I thought I'd start of my new year of blog posts by sharing all that went down over the past two weeks...

We'll start on Christmas Eve.  I had to work that morning, and as luck would have it, I tweaked my lower back the night before and I was in some pain.  Manageable, but it was frustrating.  As we all know, one of my biggest fears is getting sick for Christmas, so I had been pumping all kinds of preventative measures for weeks, and then it was like God said, "You know what?  To hell with your flu shot and Vitamin C and Echinacea and Zinc and gargling with salt water and hand washing like a crazy person.  I'm going to give you a sore back instead."  By the time we were done work at noon that day, I was suffering pretty badly, and I was panicking over how this was going to effect my Christmas.  I went home and reluctantly took two Robaxacet tablets, lay on the couch for half an hour, but then had to get up and start getting things ready.  I had food still to make for our Christmas Eve snacks, all my gifts to transport to my mom's, etc.  Thankfully my brother stopped in and took the gifts for me.  And strangely enough, by the time I was done scrambling around getting ready, my back felt much better. 

We went to church that for our traditional Christmas Eve service, then played games (Christmas Mad Libs and charades) in my mom's basement, had snacks and festive drinks, and just had a really fun evening.  Then it was off to bed to wait for Santa!! 

I sleep on the couch on Christmas Eve, and I admit I did not have the best sleep, but I don't think I ever do.  I'm always so wound up, and then the back issue didn't help.  I know I was up first waiting for the kids, and they appeared around 6:30 AM.  It's always one of my favourite parts - sitting on the couch by the glow of the tree with them, before the house has really come awake yet.  Then the hustle and bustle begins - sticky buns for breakfast, stockings, and then, finally, the long-awaited gifts.  Santa was very good to me, as always!!  A stocking jam-packed with essentials and treats, a bundt pan, a deep-dish pie plate, two books off my list, a necklace, a bracelet, the Jimmy Fallon game Box of Lies, and the promise of an upcoming Sens game with the whole family.  I am spoiled!


I went home early afternoon to have a rest and get cleaned up, then we went to my BIL's parents place for dinner that night.  It was a delicious turkey dinner and a great visit with his family, including a rousing game of Family Feud haha!  We were home and in jammies, and everyone off to bed fairly early after a big day, with another one ahead.

The next day was Boxing Day and that is the day of our family dinner.  I had made a breakfast casserole for everyone, then went home again to get cleaned up for the day and I brought Danica with me to save my mom having a bunch of people showering at her house.  My brother arrived with his kids, and we exchanged gifts with them, then spent the afternoon watching hockey, playing games, and helping get dinner ready.  Another delicious turkey dinner, I ate so much I thought I would bust!!

The following day I had three of my littles come to hang out with me at my place.  We went for a walk to the store to get treats, watched Netflix, played games, and they had fun using the water paint books I had got them.  I enjoyed having them all to myself for a day!

The week between Christmas and New Year's is always kind of a blur.  I know I watched a LOT of stuff:  Die Hard (I had never seen it, seemed appropriate to have my first viewing over the holidays), the Netflix doc Don't F*** with Cats, Dolly Parton's Heartstrings, the latest season of Fuller House, Virgin River and Spinning Out.  On Disney +, I watched Cinderella,10 Things I Hate About You, and Adventures in Babysitting.  Like I said... a LOT of stuff. I don't even think I mentioned it all. I was a little disappointed I never got to the movie theatre over the holidays, but I kind of enjoyed this hunkering down and binging!!

On the 29th, we had a family dinner at my aunt & uncle's.  The live right on the river, and the conditions were PERFECT that day for skating.  A bunch of the cousins skated for over 2 hours!!  Then we had an awesome dinner and dessert.  I always enjoy these family gatherings so much, and I was so glad to see everyone for Christmas.

New Year's Eve was kind of a last minute thrown together plan, but it turned out to be a terrific night (for everyone but my mom, she had a bad cold and ended up sleeping through most of it lol).  I invited everyone to join me at my place to celebrate my sister's birthday.  They picked up Chinese food, and then we played games until it was time to watch the ball drop!  The evening flew by so fast, and we had a great time ringing in 2020.

Danica slept over that night and the next day she and I lazed ALL day.  (That's when I watched all of that Disney + stuff).  We had snacks for lunch, and then late in the day, headed back to my mom's for one of my favourite holiday meals:  tourtiere, ham, hashbrown casserole, coleslaw... yum!!!  Everyone went home that night, but it didn't feel like the holidays were over yet as I didn't have to return to work until January 7th. 

The following days included more lazing and Netflixing, crocheting, a shopping day, I took down Christmas on Saturday, and then vegged for the next few days until it was time to return to work.

I was officially back in the saddle and playing catch-up yesterday.  I was off for almost two full weeks, and I don't think I've ever been off that long before.  It was so nice, and I enjoyed it immensely!  It was also long enough that I was pretty much ready to get back to routine yesterday.  And the nice part is that I'm now on 3-day weeks for a few months with my winter hours, so it makes the transition back much easier.

I hope you all had a terrific Christmas and New Year's!!  Here's to 2020!! :)

Monday, December 23, 2019

Almost Time!!!

We are officially only two days away now, guys!!  The excitement is bubbling, and I'm just trying to keep it all under control for another day or so!!

I keep bouncing between feeling relaxed and accomplished, and feeling like there's still SO much to do.  I finished my wrapping last Wednesday and Thursday evenings, then attended the live radio play production of Little Women at our church on Friday evening.  Saturday I had some free time, so I decided to bake cookies for the man who won my 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies in last year's Canada Day Committee auction - they were long overdue!  Then I went "Elfing" and delivered them, as well as tins of Christmas cookies to a bunch of folks around town.  I had hoped to have some crocheted Christmas ornaments to deliver as well, but I never got around to them.  I have been working on a blanket that I wanted to have ready to give at Christmas, and I FINALLY got it done last night.  I also got our games for Christmas Eve prepped this weekend, made my stop to pick up my Christmas booze, and watched some more Christmas movies.

However, there were things I couldn't get accomplished this weekend. I had wanted to take my gifts ahead to my mom's, but my brother's kids are there for a few days and I didn't want them to see me bringing them in.  Also, I'd have liked to get my Christmas Eve snacks ready but it seemed too early to do that.

SO.  Here's the plan for the next 2 days.  Tonight, I have our annual Christmas pizza party with my friend Lindsay and her family.  I'm also going to try to get laundry done when I get home.  Tomorrow, I work until noon and then I will rush home to spend the afternoon doing final prep: making Christmas Eve snacks, packing up gifts and my stuff for the night, watching Miracle on 34th Street, and hopefully doing my nails if I have time.  I will take everything up to my mom's late afternoon, likely have a light supper, then head to church with her.  And then... then the fun begins!!  Christmas Eve service, family games, snacks, and drinks at my mom's, spending the night there, and waking up to Christmas morning with family!!  We'll have dinner with my BIL's family that night, then my brother's kids return for Boxing Day, when we will have more gifts and our family dinner.

I SIMPLY CANNOT WAIT!!!

And yet, no matter how excited I am over the hub-bub, there are also quiet moments I look forward to, too.  For instance - after everyone has gone off to bed on Christmas Eve, I love lying on the couch watching the old A Christmas Carol in black-and-white by the glow of the tree.  They play it late every Christmas Eve.  I love sitting on the couch in the early hours the next morning, while it's still dark out, and waiting for Caden and Danica to join me.  I love that night, after we return from the Provost family dinner, finding a movie to watch quietly to unwind from the day.  And then, once the commotion of our Boxing Day celebration is over, I love to just go into hiding for a day or so, to hunker down and have a Netflix binge or movie day.

I hope that wherever you are and whatever your plans may be, that you are filled with the Christmas spirit and have a wonderful time celebrating with friends & family!! 

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

One Week...

The countdown is on, my friends... We are ONE WEEK away from my favourite day of the year!!  I just can't wait for Christmas Eve!!!

While I'm feeling mostly on the ball at this stage of the game, there is one glaring area that I need to get moving on, and that is wrapping gifts!!  It is my favourite holiday task, so I usually leave it til one of the last things I do, but I feel like I'm leaving it too close to the wire this time.  I keep reminding myself that I've got time, there's no need to panic yet, but... I'm a worrier by nature, so what else could I expect.

I've been loving this December so much.  My crazy November Christmas prep has really allowed me to sit back and enjoy for the most part.  Last weekend especially was just... Christmas perfection, in my books.  First of all, I GOT TO GO CHRISTMAS CAROLING!!  Finally!!!!  I've wanted to do this for years, and I got close last year but it ended up being cancelled due to a pre-Christmas rain storm.  This year, the weather was perfect.  A mild evening, a great group of singers, and some very dedicated community members who organized the whole thing.  I still grin from ear to ear thinking of how we must have looked rolling around town, singing our little hearts out.  It was pure Christmas magic.


On Saturday, my friend Lindsay and I had the date circled on the calendar for our first ever Christmas Movie Marathon.  As you all know, I've been dragging her through Scary Movie Marathons for years, and this year she asked, "Um, why don't we do this for Christmas movies?  You know, like, movies we can actually enjoy??"  And so, by some miracle, we both had a free December Saturday to do just that. She arrived early afternoon, we settled in by the glow of the tree while it poured rain outside, and we watched The Man Who Invented Christmas, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, The Santa Clause, and Christmas Vacation.  We also enjoyed snacks, Linds made her world-famous carbonara for dinner, and I introduced her to her first taste of rum & egg nog.  (She was a trooper and made it through over half of a very large glass before she had to give up. lol)

By the time she left, the rain had changed to snow.. .and then I got another Christmas miracle, which was waking up Sunday morning to a beautiful blanket of white!!  (I was lucky - despite the power flicking off and on throughout the evening as the winds and snow picked up, I didn't lose my power completely.  Not everyone in our area was so lucky.)

Sunday was a big and bustling morning at church, as it was not only our White Gift service but also the Sunday School Pageant.  It was so good!  The kids did a terrific job and everyone loved it.  Then after church, we went to my sister's to celebrate my niece Danica's 11th birthday.  We had brunch, cake, and the birthday girl opened her gifts.  It was a wonderful day spent with family.


Truthfully, the only bad part of the past few days has been my battle with brittle. LOL!  Several years ago, I tried making peanut brittle for the first time and it turned out wonderfully using the stovetop method.  Some friends shared that it was much easier to use the microwave method, and the following year I tried that with great results.  Last year, though, I did something wrong and ended up with chewy, hard-on-the-teeth, undercooked brittle.  I wanted to make sure that didn't happen this year, but then I ended up with a pan of very burnt brittle on Saturday morning.  I was disappointed - what a waste of ingredients and time!!  Yesterday I saw a recipe for Buttered Rum Brittle, and I thought I'd try to redeem myself.  It was a stovetop recipe that didn't give temperatures so my candy thermometer was useless, but I followed the boiling times to a T... and... guess what... undercooked and chewy brittle.  *SIGH*  I think it's time to give up, before I spend a fortune on sugar and corn syrup and nuts!!!

I did get a go of peanut blossoms made last night, and with that, I think my Christmas baking is complete.  I'll spend evenings for the rest of this week getting a start on the wrapping, and also working towards finishing one last gift that I'm crocheting.  Friday evening is the production of the Pontiac Community Players' radio play Little Women at our church, and then Saturday I have no plans so it will be my opportunity to finish up the wrapping, watch the last of the movies (I don't have many left!), and maybe do some cookie deliveries.

It's all coming together... A week to go... Are you feeling it yet, friends???? ;)

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Christmas Wishlist: 2019 Edition

Did you guys know I almost abolished adult Christmas presents for this year?  Me. ME.  Jillian Elizabeth Young, the lover of presents.

!!!!!!!??????!!!!!!

Truth be told, I'm finding the present buying aspect of Christmas very overwhelming the past few years.  Spending limits, worries of gifts not "looking like enough", and just trying to come up with unique, useful gifts that will be appreciated stresses the hell out of me.  Even as my nieces and nephews get older, I'm finding them harder to buy for.  I mean, a 14-year-old boy who offers little in suggestions and doesn't want clothes?  What the heck are you supposed to get him?  I miss the days of DVD's and CD's being popular.  At least there was ALWAYS a movie or music you could share!!

There was a time when I used to proclaim that I NEEDED stuff!!  I mean, I'm single, and I'm child-less.  I have not had any showers like most girls my age have had at this stage in life.  My house is filled with hand-me-downs and things I have gradually purchased over the years.  But I'm now at a stage in life where my finances are somewhat OK, and if I want something... well, I just buy it.  Not only that, I really like the idea of just sitting back on Christmas morning with a mug of coffee & Bailey's and watching the kids open their gifts.  Relaxing...

But here's the sad, pathetic truth:  I love waking up in the morning and seeing that pile of gifts sprawled out beneath the tree.  The pretty paper and ribbons and bows... the way they sparkle in the lights of the tree... That vision just about makes me gasp.  If adults don't exchange gifts, that pile diminishes significantly.  I mean, there's five of us.  Take away five people's gifts and... it's a much smaller pile.  That thought hurts my heart.

Sad and pathetic.  I know.

Regardless, I floated the idea this year, and after a discussion, it was decided to go ahead with gift giving as some people had already started their shopping.  The discussion has been shelved for next year.

So this year... The Wishlist lives on!!!  Yes, there have been items that have crossed my mind throughout the year as something I would like, that I would stop myself and think, Save it for The Wishlist.  You don't need this RIGHT NOW.  Without further ado...

Books
Here are the selections for our 2020 Book Club reading list that I require:
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Into the Abyss by Carol Shalsen
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
One Night Promised by Jodi Ellen Malpas
And one that didn't make the list that I would like to read:  The Chain by Adrian McKinty




Bundt Pan
Do you know how often I see a recipe I'd like to try, and think, "Nope, can't make that, I don't have a bundt pan."  OK, so, maybe not that often.  But still. Seems like a pan that would come in handy from time to time.

Spring-form Pan
See above.


Deep-dish Pie Plate
I have regular glass pie plate, but some recipes call for deep dish.  This past fall, I made a quiche that pretty much overflowed the regular pie plate.  I also figure it would double for a nice dip dish.


Nutcracker decoration
I almost bought this for myself.  I'd like a larger Nutcracker - not necessarily huge, but big enough that it stands in the corner and is noticeable.  I saw one at the Dollar Store last week for $20, and it was relatively nice for a Dollar Store Nutcracker.  But because I put it on the Wishlist, I decided to leave it.  I may regret this.  I have had a Nutcracker on my Wishlist for almost as long as I had a bread maker!!  (Which reminds me... I need to make some fresh bread over the holidays.)


Peppermint Halo Stick
Last year, I got a "Natural Pharmacy" - a little kit of mini sticks of essential oil stuff that is for different reasons.  Digestion, pain release, immunity, that sort of thing. One of them is Peppermint Halo, which has been one of the best remedies I've ever tried for headaches.  I put it at the base of my neck, temples, and dab it all over my head, take an extra-strength Advil liquigel, and usually - usually - it helps.  For someone who has had headaches for years and rarely gets relief from anything, this has been a Godsend.  I've used it enough that my little stick is getting low.  The others still have lots, I just would like to get more Peppermint Halo.


New Water Cup Tumbler with Straw (Starbucks)
I can actually take this off the Wishlist, as I unexpectedly received this already!  My cousin Kenny asked me to crochet a stocking for their baby's first Christmas.  Last weekend, they came to pick it up and brought me a thank you gift for doing it - a set of 5 reusable Starbucks holiday cups with lids and straws! I LOVE them!!! 


The Crochet Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden
I'm the kind of girl who has to follow a pattern when it comes to crocheting.  Following Youtube videos are not my gig.  I need it in print in front of me.  Granted, I have found the Internet to be a very useful tool in this regard, so maybe a whole book isn't really necessary, but it would never go to waste with me.


Colour-changing Mug
I have a mug fetish.  I own far too many mugs.  I don't even have room for them all.  Yet still... I'd love a colour-changing mug!  The kind that changes when hot water is added.  Mugs make my heart happy.


Yarn
I have a stash, and I really don't need more until some of it gets used up, but my gosh, I love yarn.  One of my goals for the New Year is to somehow figure out a way to better store all of my yarn (right now, it is stuffed in boxes and bins in my junk room.)  So maybe what I should have asked for was some kind of shelving or better bin storage for said yarn!!

These are just a few ideas... I've always said I'm easy to buy for, because I love so much.  Cozy socks.  Comfy leggings.  Anything Ottawa Senators or Toronto Raptors related.  Candles.  Coffee.  I'm about to enter Hygge season, so anything that helps in that department goes!!! :)  Gift cards for movies or iTunes... never a bad idea.

What is on YOUR Wishlist this year?