Thursday, January 30, 2020

Thoughts on Thursday: On Kobe and my junk room.

  • It's been a weird week for me. First of all, there's the tragic Kobe Bryant news.  I have shed more tears for a man I really knew nothing about... I mean, I don't profess to be a big basketball fan.  Let's face it:  I was a fan for approximately a month, between May & June of last year, while the Toronto Raptors made their run to the championship.  Total bandwagoner.  But even those of us who don't pay much attention to the game have heard of Kobe Bryant.  He was a legend.  If you asked me, with my limited knowledge of the NBA, who the best basketball players in history are, I would probably say #1 Michael Jordan, #2 Kobe Bryant. Hearing that the helicopter he was in with his daughter Gianna and seven other people had a crashed on Sunday, with no survivors, well... it was heart-breaking, to say the least.
  • Last night, I went back on Youtube and found some of the old interviews Jimmy Fallon had done with Kobe.  I remembered him being on the show not long ago, because I recalled them talking about how his wife was expecting their fourth girl.  (That baby girl is now 7 months old.) But the part that really rattled me was when Jimmy asked him if it was true that he didn't want his younger daughters to remember him as a basketball player; that he wanted to be remembered as an innovator, a producer, an artist.  Just hearing them talk about "how he wanted to be remembered" by his children... it was haunting and bittersweet and devastating.  We just never know what the future holds. 
  • I can't stop thinking of his poor wife and children who are left to mourn them.  It is tragic enough to lose one close family member, but to lose two... one being a 13-year-old girl who was already showing signs of being as amazing at the game of basketball as her father... ugh.  Shattering.  I join with the millions of others who are sending all their love and prayers to the Bryant family and the families of the others that lost their lives on Sunday.  May their faith carry them through.

  • Moving on from the Kobe stuff, because it is just too damned sad... 
  • I had plans on Monday that fell through, and then the water was off in town all day, so I decided it was the perfect day to start tackling the junk room.  A job I have put off and procrastinated on and avoided at all costs... It was time.  I can't tell you how discouraging it was to look in this room, and the piles and piles of junk that have accumulated.  It is the room where everything that doesn't have a place gets dumped.  It's SUPPOSED to be my Craft Room, but there has been no space in there to do crafts for ages.  It really came to a head for me back in the fall, when my landlords told me they were having a window repairman come in to check the windows (some of them keep sliding open from the top).  I shuddered at the thought of an outsider seeing this room, and thinking, "My God, she's a hoarder."  I decided that my Winter Project this year had to be cleaning out the junk room.
  • So I started on Monday.  I hauled a TON of crap out of that room, and it still looked like a disaster zone.  *sigh*  I literally worked at it from 10 AM to 5 PM, with only a short break for lunch, and the visible progress was so small that I wanted to cry.  I tried to take solace in the fact that at least two of the biggest disasters - my book shelf and my gift wrapping supplies - had been organized.  Then I got obsessed with the rest of it.  I spent all day Tuesday thinking about that room - what stuff had to stay, what stuff had to go, how I wanted to re-arrange things.  As soon as I got home from work, I dove back in.  I made a lot of progress again, but still... STILL!!! it looked like a war zone.  
  • Yesterday I battled a sinusy headache all day, which really had me feeling out of sorts, but I refused to let this room cleaning be put on pause.  I feared if I took one day off, I might never go back.  Last night I was on a mission to really finish it up.  I packed up the remaining items that I had assigned for yard sale or donation and stored them in the basement.  Everything else got hauled to garbage or recycling.  By the time I was done, I was exhausted and my head was pounding, but I felt so relieved.  I can see carpet.  Things look organized, for the most part.  The hardest part of this job was done.  Hallelujah!!
  • It's still not completely finished... The table is loaded with books that I am giving away.  I'm going to keep them for another week to see if anyone wants to peruse them; any left by next weekend will be boxed up and donated to our local library.  The closet is also still jammed up with stuff that I should re-organize.  I have a shelving unit I bought to store my yarn in and I still have to assemble it and figure out where to put it.  And I hate the pile of bins and boxes in the back corner of the room, but that's Christmas and there is literally nowhere else to put them.  But at least if someone walks into this room now, they won't be shocked and horrified.  At least, I hope not. LOL!
  • What else is new... Oh, I have been on a quest to crochet a toque that I like.  My first attempt, which I now call "Marge Simpson" was a total disaster.  It was supposed to be a slouchy toque, but because I used a bulkier yarn than was recommended, it ended up being too stiff and won't slouch properly.  It will actually stand straight up if you want it to... a la Marge Simpson hair.  Charming.  The second attempt was a pattern I purchased, but it ended up feeling way too small and just kind of looked funny.  The third attempt, which I finished last night after the junk room clean-up was finished, is my favourite by far!  It worked up fairly quickly and it fits properly.  Finally a winner!!

  • Aside from finishing that toque, I haven't really got to do my "usual" stuff that I enjoy this week because of cleaning out that damn room.  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I focused on it and got it mostly done, but I haven't watched any shows or listened to any podcasts or done any cooking or baking... The things I love to do this time of year have been on the back-burner.  So I've decided I'm taking this coming weekend "off".  The rest of the house needs to be cleaned, but it's going to have to wait.  I want to find a Netflix show to get lost in, and I want to crochet a shawl (I have a pattern I've been dying to try); I want to bake cookies and try a recipe for bacon leek pasta (I have leeks in my fridge that need to get used up).  This weekend is going to be my reward for working so hard to clean up that room!!
  • My sinusy headache is much better today but it's still lingering.  Usually I associate them with bad weather coming - rain or snow - but there's nothing really in the forecast right now.  blech.  Yesterday I tried battling it with just the Peppermint Halo, no Advil, and it was unsuccessful.  It seems I need the combination of the two to really have any effect.  Friggin headaches.
Well, that's it for me for this week... Hoping for cheerier days and fun ahead!!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Book Review: Into the Abyss by Carol Shaben

I've decided I'm going to write little "book report" blog posts when I'm finished reading a book, especially for book club selections.  I try to read through all of our book club picks right off the bat (especially when I have extra reading time in the winter months), but then I find I have trouble recalling details when it comes time for those particular book club meetings.  I thought if I had blog posts to look back on before the meetings, it would help refresh my memory on the stories I've read.

Our first book for 2020 is Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane, which I read last summer (and I actually remember quite well, I was very gripped by that particular story); so I started off by reading the second book on the list (which we will be discussing in April):  Into the Abyss by Carol Shaben.


While this wasn't a book I voted for, I was still very interested in reading it.  First of all, it's a true Canadian story, which intrigued me off the bat.  And the tagline: "How a deadly plane crash changed the lives of a pilot, a politiican, a criminal, and a cop"... doesn't that just suck you in??  It sure did for me.

This novel was written by Carol Shaben, and recounts the true story of a plane crash that occurred in Northern Alberta in 1984.  Carol's father, Larry Shaben, was a prominent Albertan politician at the time - and yes, he was the politician who survived the crash. The other survivors included the pilot, Erik Vogel, an RCMP officer named Scott Deschamps, and the criminal he was escorting, a drifter named Paul Archambault.  There were six other passengers aboard the plane who did not survive, including then leader of Alberta's New Democratic Party, Grant Notley.  Carol was working as a journalist in the middle east at the time and learned of her father's plane crash in a small news item in the Jerusalem Post. Twenty-eight years later, she published the story how her father and the other three survivors made it through that long cold night, and how their lives were impacted by this catastrophic event.

In her telling of this tale, Ms. Shaben weaves together the threads of all four of the survivors - what brought them to that fateful day and why each of them were on that plane.  She recounts the harrowing night they spent alone, injured, and fighting to stay alive in the deep snowy cold of the Northern Albertan bush they crashed into.  Then, she follows them after the crash, through the inquisitions and court proceedings, and on into the rest of their lives, to show each of them were changed or impacted by the crash for years to come.  She takes a journalistic approach, as she has clearly spent time interviewing them, their loved ones, taking bits and pieces and tying them all together to create this epic story of survival.

There were parts of the book I really got sucked into and couldn't put it down, as I learned of the survivors lives and in particular the chapters following the crash and the attempts at rescuing them.  Others fell flat, or were boring.  For me, the detailed chapters on Erik Vogel's flight training, and explanations on how flight instruments, patterns, and how airplanes work in general, were chapters I skimmed quickly because it was all over my head. 

I was particularly intrigued to read about the criminal, Paul Archambault.  Very early on in the narrative, the author reveals that Paul, while a drifter and small-time criminal at the time of the crash, was originally from Aylmer, Quebec.  I live about a half an hour away from Aylmer, so that instantly caught my attention.  Paul's story in particular stood out throughout the book, as he truly seemed like a good-hearted guy whose life had fallen off the rails.  He was named a hero by Larry Shaben in the wake of the crash, as he was the least injured of the survivors and spent the night working to keep them alive.  He scrounged through the strewn items from the plane to find clothing to keep them warm and items to help with their survival, he started a fire, and he made many trips into the dense bush for fire wood.  When there was nothing more he could do, he told jokes and stories to try and keep them awake and alert.

It would seem that in the aftermath of the crash, Paul's life stood the greatest chance of being impacted in a positive way.  He was the recipient of an award for his heroic efforts that night, he made headlines across the country, he was acquitted from his crimes at the time, and seemed to be given every opportunity to make something of himself.  Unfortunately, while Paul did enjoy some great days in the sun basking in the glow of being a hero, he once again fell off the rails several years later. The sad end to his story was probably, for me, the most heart-breaking part of this whole tale.  I really became invested in Paul's story and rooted for him.

Overall, I was glad I read the book and was quite interested in learning about this little piece of Canadian history that I had never heard about before.  I was only a year old when the plane crashed in 1984, and while the book says the crash made headlines from coast-to-coast at the time, even my mother doesn't seem to have any recollections of it.  I asked if he remembered the name Grant Notley, as he seemed to be the most famous person in the crash, and she said, "No.  Was he Rachel Notley's father?"  (He was. Rachel Notley is now the leader of the NDP in Alberta, following in her father's footsteps.)  Granted, my family has never been super into politics, so what was going on in Alberta's political landscape in the '80's might not come quickly to mind for my mom 35 years later.

Of course, the eerie coincidence of me reading this book when I did hit me squarely as I was still reflecting upon it this past weekend.  I finished the last chapter after midnight, so in the very early hours of the morning on Sunday, January 26th.  I set the book down and went to sleep.  I awoke that morning, went to church, had lunch with family members, went sliding with my brother and his kids, and then went home mid-afternoon.  The first thing I heard upon arriving home was that the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people had crashed in Calabasas, killing everyone on board.  That's a blog post all on its own, so I won't delve into my thoughts and feelings about it now, but it sent shivers down my spine to think about it, especially with the echoes of this books still reverberating through my mind at that time.

I think it will be awhile before I'll have the desire to fly again...

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Jill Recommends...

Happy Thursday friends!  (Thursdays are my Fridays this time of year, so, officially my fave day of the week for a few months! woot!!)

So, I've been kind of taking stock lately of things I own (either items I've bought or gifts given to me) that I know weren't cheap, but that have been well worth the money spent.  You know what I mean, right?  In this age of online shopping (which I do FAR too often), I've learned that some buys are wins and some just aren't.  Some are big time wastes of money, especially when shopping online and you aren't 100% sure of what it looks like in person. 

Here are some of the "wins": Things I (or someone I love) has spent money on in the past few years that I have made max use out of, and would recommend to anyone!

Moccasin Slippers
This was actually a craft workshop that I took with a group of friends a few years ago.  A local woman learned the technique of making authentic moccasins from the Indigenous people when she lived out west, and is now teaching it in our area.  It was fairly expensive (I can't remember exactly, but in the $100 range I believe) to take the workshop, and we only made ONE moccasin that day.  But we were sent home with the materials and the knowledge, and I actually went straight home and made the second one right away.  I was exhausted and loathed my slippers that day, because my fingers were so sore and I was going bug-eyed staring at them.  Tedious work.  But I have worn those slippers on almost a daily basis since.  They are well worn, and yet have stood up well.  They are still in great shape.  It also made me appreciate the cost of just buying a pair ( I swore after that I would never make my own again, and I certainly now understand the price tag on them!)
(I am wearing the moccasins in this photo - along with super awesome pineapple leggings, twinning with my niece!!)

Winter Coat
I had a goal this winter of buying myself a decent winter coat.  I have my Mountainview coat, which I've used as my only winter coat in recent years, but I've always felt I should have another one, not just my work one.  Back in the fall, I bought a winter coat from Rickis online, and it was just OK.  I liked it, but there were features I didn't love.  Then just before Christmas, one of the snap buttons pulled out and left a gaping hole.  I know it was fixable, but it pissed me off.  When you spend that much money on a coat, you don't want it to start falling apart within a month.  My mom told me she could fix it for me, but she was busy over the holidays so I was just letting it go.
Then I went shopping at Bayshore with a friend just before the New Year, and I spotted a coat on sale at Reitmans.  It was marked down 50%, but still would cost me $120.  I loved it.  As soon as I put it on, it felt good, and I loved the look of it.  But I kept thinking, "I can't buy ANOTHER winter coat, that's crazy."  Battling with that thought was the voice of my Aunt Marion saying, "If you love something, you should buy it.  Always."  I decided Aunt Marion has never led me astray, so I bought the coat.  And I have not regretted it for one second after that initial hesitation.  I love it.
I don't have a decent pic of me wearing the coat that actually shows it all - this is a photo from their Facebook page

Winter Boots
Last winter, boots were the bane of my existence.  I "made do" with an old pair that had holes in them and a pair a friend passed on to me, but putting on boots was, like, my LEAST favourite part of the day.  I swore this year I was going to invest in some that I actually liked and were easy to put on.  I ordered two pairs on Amazon - one nicer pair (but still good for every day use) and one pair of what I call my "grandma boots".  Amazon purchases can be iffy - especially footwear - but both ended up being winners!!  And it is incredible how much life improves when one is not dreading putting on one's boots every single day! LOL!

Sideways Cross Necklace
My sister had a Stella & Dot jewelry party back in the fall, and I whispered to my mom that if she was looking for a Christmas gift idea for me, I loved the silver sideways cross necklace.  I've always wanted a sideways cross.  And I have worn it almost every day since I opened it Christmas morning!!

Saje Wellness Oils (especially Peppermint Halo)
Can't stress enough how much Peppermint Halo has saved me over the past year, as it has become the only remedy that eases my sinus headaches.  There are other oils in the little kit I have used a few times - Pain Release on my sore back, Immune on my chest when I feel a cold coming on... but Peppermint Halo has been by far my most used.  A friend gave me another little kit she had just before Christmas, which was really nice because I was running low on Peppermint Halo and it's not cheap.  ($28 for the wand, and it does last quite a while so I guess it's not THAT expensive... definitely well worth it in my case.)

Amazon Fire Stick
I already had a Google Chromecast, which worked perfectly well, when I bought the Amazon Fire Stick last year.  Why get a second do-dad that turns my regular TV into a Smart TV?  Because I wanted Amazon Prime, and of course the Google platform doesn't support it.  The Fire Stick has allowed me access to pretty much anything I could dream of (Netflix, Prime, Crave, Disney +, YouTube, and so on...)  I use it every single day.  (And I still have the Chromecast on my bedroom TV, it still works great too, I just don't watch as much TV in bed as I do in the living room.)

Bluetooth Speaker
My brother-in-law got me this as a Christmas gift three or four years ago now, and it is used daily.  It connects to my iPhone via Bluetooth, and it has nice volume and lasts a long time each time it is charged.  I thought when I got the Echo Dot and Alexa was in my home, I'd use it less, but it is still my go-to speaker.  I also use it to listen to podcasts.  Works like a charm.

Fitbit Charge 2
My family gave me my Fitbit for my birthday two summers ago, and I admit, for months it was pointless.  I wasn't even trying to hit 10,000 steps a day at the time, and I basically just checked it to see my sleep patterns.  But last year, my Lenten promise was to wake up every morning half an hour early to do a light workout, and to hit 10,000 steps a day.  The Fitbit became my daily companion as I tracked (and succeeded!)  While I haven't been quite as committed to it as I was during that Lenten period, I have definitely used it much more faithfully, and it has been a great tool to keep me on the right path when it comes to being more active.

Daily Ritual Terry Hooded Tunic
Buying clothing from Amazon is soooo iffy.  I hardly ever do it because I've been burnt too many times with stuff that takes forever to come from China that ends up not fitting.  But Daily Ritual is the Amazon brand, it doesn't take forever to ship to you, and it is pretty decent quality and prices from what I hear!  I bought this hoodie in black, it is long enough to cover my butt when I'm wearing leggings, and according to my mom it is slimming on me.  Score!!

Snowshoes & Poles
I guess it's been four or five years now since I invested in a pair of my own snowshoes & poles (after borrowing from a friend several times), and I have tried very hard to make good use of them!  I actually didn't get a high-end set - just cheapies from Amazon (less than $100 at the time), but I wasn't sure I would use them much so I didn't want to sink a lot of coin into them.  I now know that I use them enough, so when the time comes, I'll definitely look into a better pair.  These, though, have been a great set for such a low cost!  I have used them quite a bit in winter months, and they are only now starting to show some rust on the buckle parts.  I admit I was slow to get started with them this season but I've been out twice this week, and I'm planning to go at lunch today, so... snowshoeing is happening!!

Reading Socks
I could just about drool over anything cozy and hygge, so I have hearts in my eyes when I see the plush reading socks at Chapters.  Full price, though?  Crazy.  I couldn't do it.  $35-40 for a pair of thick socks?  No way Jose.  But I saw these on sale after Christmas for $12.99 and I jumped.  And I've worn them a lot since.  (Hibernating season = Reading Sock season).  While I couldn't justify them at full price, they have been well worth the reduced price tag!
(wearing them in this photo - eating, not reading. natch.)
Starbucks Tumbler
Ahhh my beloved Starbucks cup.  A Christmas gift from a friend several years ago, it has stood the test of time.  It is much more durable than the cheaper plastic versions I have bought at Walmart in the past.  It has survived many drops.  I drink a ton of water, and it's big enough that I don't have to refill it every half hour.  I adore it.

Optic Scarf
I bought this from Norwex last spring, and at the time I was like "yikes. expensive." (and it was on sale!)  But I clipped it to my purse, and I have turned to it SO often to clean my glasses, I can't even explain.  It is so handy to have right there on my purse, and it works like a charm every time to clean smudges or spots.  Well worth the money spent!

What are the items in your lift that you feel are worth investing in?  The things that might cost a little more but are well worth it? 

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:


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!!!!!!!)


Game of Thrones
Big Little Lies
Castle Rock
The Handmaid's Tale
Dirty John
When They See Us
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!!!)


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.


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!! :)