Monday 30 December 2019

Farewell to 2019

The remnants of Christmas are disappearing, though there always seems to be that one ornament that hangs around unseen until spring...I haven't found it yet.  Most of the clean-up is normal housekeeping with a few surprises.  I've washed all the floors on the main level of the house, and as I've swept/vacuumed before mopping I've found a few toys, a pair of little boy's underwear, and various crushed cookies and a candy cane.  Then there are those spills that seem to appear out of nowhere.  I can't blame them all on the young one as I know he doesn't drink coffee or diet Coke.  

I spent a good part of one day this week organizing my new laptop.  By setting up the two laptops on the table side by side, I was able to replicate the same folders and ensure I had the links I wanted.  I'm still getting accustomed to it, the keyboard has a calculator keypad on the right, so I tend to position my fingers in the wrong spot and end up with stuff I didn't mean to have happen.  But it's getting easier everyday.  It's basically just a newer model of what I had.  Best of all it has a larger screen making it easier to see my mistakes. :p

On Saturday I spent much of the day in the kitchen.  Another batch of buns was made, with half put in the freezer for later.  I started a jigsaw puzzle that I bought last summer - it has rows of various fabrics with sewing notions scattered about.  By Sunday I realized the puzzle is far too big for my small table!  I can't do it on the floor so all my work was tucked back in the box and I'll hold off until I have room for it.  A bit disappointing, as I was hoping to finish and frame it to hang in my craft room.  

I also played with the Instant pot.  Please bear with me as I've never owned a pressure cooker and this is rather interesting to me.  After reading the manual, I cleaned the various part and ran the first test, a water test.  I'd read a hack the night before that suggesting putting a few eggs in while doing the test.  The author said one might as well get something out of it.  In went four eggs and with a three minute cook and a natural release I had perfectly hard boiled eggs.  I had one for my breakfast and the other three were made up into egg salad for sandwiches.  Definitely no faster than on the stove but a good use of the test.

Later I pulled some chicken breasts from the freezer and partially defrosted them.  I cut the meat into smaller cubes, sauteed the meat for about 5 minutes (in the Instant pot), then added a bit of water and some BBQ sauce.  (Next time I'd reduce the water and make my own sauce but I wanted a simple recipe for my first attempt).  It took about 6 minutes on the pressure cook setting to finish.  Meanwhile I made Minute rice on the stove, and heated up some mixed veg.  In total it took 20 minutes from when I started the prep to when we were sitting down to eat.  Could I have done this on the stove in a similar amount of time?  Probably since I had cut up the meat and it was already partially defrosted  I suspect it's first real test will come when I forget to take something out for supper and need to get it cooked in a hurry.  The Instant pot also works as a slow cooker so I'll give that a try next as that is one appliance I use frequently.  If the Instant pot works well I'll give my slow cooker to D.  

Sunday I continued my housecleaning, then worked on the baby blanket and watched the international junior hockey.  Our Canadian team had a horrid loss to the Russians the other day, 6 to 0, as well as losing one of their top players to injury. In their game against the USA, Canada was down 5-1 at one point and came and won the game.  So I watched the Russia - USA game with interest.  I figured it would be a close game and it was, with USA coming out on top 3-1.  Canada played Germany this morning and came out on the winning side with a 3-1 score. 

 I managed to finish the baby blanket while I watched Sunday night football.  While I prefer our Canadian football (not soccer), at this time of the year I do pay some attention to the NFL.  A few years ago I was on a cruise ship in the Caribbean a week prior to the Super Bowl.  I recall laying out on the upper deck watching the playoffs on the big screen under the night sky.  That sure won't be happening in 2020.

The blanket turned out nicely though it sure didn't start that way!  This is a tiny piece of the yarn that it was knit with - each stitch is knit in between the little puffs of yarn.  Casting on wasn't too difficult but the first few rows were a bit of a nightmare.  I frogged it at least twice before I was satisfied with how it looked.  There were still bits of, what I'm calling, string on the edges so I crocheted a border using a similar yarn but without the strings.  Much easier!

My next project will be on the needles later today.  I'm planning on knitting a sweater for Eli for the spring.  While I'm working on that, the Instant pot is working on chili on the slow cooker mode.  Only time will tell how that works out.

I won't be going out this New Year's Eve. In the past Ial would have been at C & N's, but as they separated there will be no celebration this year.  Even if they were, I suspect it would have been suspended, as N's mom passed away this weekend.  It was a bit unexpected though she's been in and out of the hospital for nearly 6 weeks.  Thankfully, N was able to spend some time with his mom before Christmas.

I'll be back in 2020!  Have a great week everyone.

Thursday 26 December 2019

The calm after the storm

Phew, what a busy few days!  As I started writing this post Eli and his mom were on their way home and before I started the clean up, I took a short break to just relax.  An almost 3 year old is a whirling dervish!  A lovely, sweet one at that, and if we could bottle all that energy and share it, it would be wonderful.

The busy-ness all started on Sunday with the visit from my brother and his family. The living room was tidied (check out the table by my's been cleared of all of its clutter!)  I set an extra chair, and brought out the ottoman to be used as a side table.  The television played the yule log burning, while my Google mini in the kitchen was streaming holiday music.  

In the kitchen, the island was laden with the goodies. My nephew K and his girlfriend S were first to arrive.  We had a short vist before R, P, and L arrived, which was nice as S is very quiet and didn't talk much when the whole group was there.  She is a kinesiology major, working towards her degree.  A very nice girl and counterpoint to the boisterous nature of K!  

We visited for an hour or so before they headed out to see the new Star Wars movie.  I haven't asked how they liked it, but from other reviews I've read, it hasn't impressed many viewers.  After they left, I tidied up and worked on my baby blanket.

I was up early the following day, in part because of two noisy and hungry cats, and partly to remind my son to take a container of cookies to work.  Much of the day was spent cleaning, washing floors, bedding, and toddler proofing the house. (However, as I was to soon learn, he's quite capable of figuring out how to climb onto something to get what he wants!)

Although she had planned to drive up on Christmas Eve day, D and Eli arrived on the evening of the 23rd.  She was feeling some anxiety over the installation of the flooring and needed to get away.  There was a bit of excitement the next morning, as the contractor was unable to get into the house.  She has two locks, a deadbolt and a lower push button doorknob and while she was certain she had tested both keys, he couldn't make it work.  After a bit of discussion, he called a local locksmith who got him into the house.  We'd gladly pay for that cost as the other option was for D to drive home and back (about 3 hours in total).  As it turns out the contractor's son is a locksmith and explained to his dad how to get in.

My son had to work that morning, leaving D, Eli and I to enjoy one another's company.  Eli was quite taken with G'ma's "kismas tee".  He was a good boy and would point out the various ornaments, never touching the tree.  C arrived home shortly after lunch, and D left to drop off some of Eli's clothing and toys to a local family.  Eli was quite happy to hang out with his uncle, running circles in the basement, and paying close attention when I went down to clean the cat litter.

We had our traditional pub food dinner for Christmas Eve, chicken nuggets (buffalo for the adults, plain for Eli), fries, an M&M variety pak of hor doerves, and the vegetable tray from Sunday with dip. And of course, baking for dessert.  D made me butter tarts! Several years ago, both my kids were living in Lethbridge, Alberta, and I had gone out for Christmas.  We  chose to have the pub dinner for our Christmas dinner as I wasn't about to cook a turkey in stove I didn't know and they didn't care.  In the years since we transitioned it to Christmas Eve.  

Eli was very busy that evening and not impressed with the idea of bedtime.  He bounced out of bed several times, running out to visit with me,  before finally crashing hard.  D had lay down with him, and got up to help me set out the presents for the following morning. She also filled his stocking and hung it in the bedroom for the morning.

The large package on the right is a new duvet set for my son; I used garbage bags to wrap it, and the next morning, we used the garbage bag to gather up the wrapping paper from the gifts.  However, I'm cheap/frugal and re-use the tissue paper and bags for several years, just put a new tag on the bag. It's far easier to package gifts too! 

Christmas morning came early, about 6 a.m. when an excited little boy dashed out of the bedroom to show G'ma what Santa had left in his stocking.  I must have been half asleep as I really don't remember what he was so excited about.  His excitement built when he saw the presents under and around the tree, but when we told him he had to wait until Uncle C woke up, he left the pile alone.  D made breakfast, French toast, for Eli and I.  Then we relaxed and watched a bit of television before C appeared around 9 a.m.  After a cup of coffee and a smoke, he was ready to join us in the living room.

Eli played Santa (not that he understood) and selected the presents from under the tree to be opened. It is tradition that one gift is opened at a time so that everyone can see who received what and from whom.  When he opened the doctor's kit that his mom gave him, Eli was done with handing out the presents.  Despite there were still several gifts remaining for him, his mom had to open them since he was busy.  Sasha got quite the work-up and  G'ma got a shot in the arm.  D says it is one of his favorite toys at the indoor playground.  G'ma says, maybe it is a sign of things to come?  

My wonderful grandson, with the help of his mom and other grandmother gave me this pillow.  J's mom has, as she says, talented friends, and one of them created this for me.  I'll treasure it always!

The afternoon was relatively quiet.  I had done a bit of prep work for Christmas dinner the day prior, par-boiling the potatoes to be roasted in the oven, and preparing a casserole of Brussel sprouts and bacon. This made our preparations for Christmas dinner a little easier.  D was in charge of the pork loin roast, she seasoned and seared it before putting it in the oven.  About an hour prior to dinner the potatoes seasoned with olive oil and spices, and with the Brussel sprout casserole went into the oven while the roast was finishing.  On top of the stove, carrots were cooking, with a brown sugar in the water.  
Meanwhile I set the table. You'll note we don't have a lot of cutlery or extra plates or glasses, but I still think it looks very festive.  None of us drink wine, we don't have a salad or a dessert course.  Thus, simple works for us.

About 10 minutes before we ate, the roast came out of the oven.  I made the Stove Top stuffing (turkey) that my daughter has to have for holiday dinner, put the peas in the microwave for a few minutes, made a bit of gravy from the roast drippings, and homemade buns were set out on a plate.  Seconds later, one of the buns was missing because a young man helped himself...and I don't mean my son!  

My daughter helped me put everything into serving bowls, and then it was time to eat!  We all agreed it was the best dinner we've had for Christmas in many years.  My son is not a fan of turkey, and that doesn't make me unhappy as to make a big bird for the four of us seems a waste.  The roast was juicy and delicious and everything else was too....even the Stove Top stuffing.  Eli tried a Brussel sprout but wasn't impressed.  Those were much enjoyed by his mother and G'ma.  Carrots are a fave though of both Uncle C and Eli, while his mom doesn't care for them.  

After stuffing our faces filling our tummies, we adults sat at the table and reminisced about Christmas' past.  I learned that yes, the two of them would sneak around to find the Christmas presents I'd hidden.  One or the other would distract me while the two of them searched.  Stinkers!  Of course, I did the same thing when I was a child, though my parents often left us at home to play cards at the neighbours making the search much easier with less sneaking required.  Eli finished before we did, and was off playing with his toys.  This was a topic of discussion as well, as I don't remember my kids bouncing off their chairs at my mom's. Neither could remember why but I suspect their grandmother was a bit more stern than I.  I do know they did get excused from the table before dessert.  

Clean-up was easy, as everything went into the dishwasher with the exception of a couple of glass roasting pans.  I set them in the sink with some hot soapy water and walked away.  Dessert came later, much later, a couple of baking pieces was all that needed.  Well, not even needed but Christmas is definitely a time we tend to indulge.  

That evening, Eli was not happy about bed time but like the night before within minutes of being in bed, he was fast asleep.  He was up again by 6 a.m. the following morning, which was fine by me, as D and I had planned our Boxing Day shopping to start at 7 a.m.  C was kind enough to get up early to keep Eli company while we were out.  

This is another tradition for D and I, and has been for several years.  The amount and variety of sales seem to have decreased over time but there were certainly bargains to be had.  We'd gone through the flyers over the past couple of days, settled on a route (based on proximity and hours of operation).  In just 2 1/2 hours we'd were done, though D had to run out to the drugstore a half hour later to pick up some medicine.  

Our first stop was Walmart, where she picked up a 32" RCA television for under $100 (taxes included).  She'll set it up in her bedroom.  We made a stop at Michaels where I picked up a couple of balls of yarn to finish my latest baby blanket (not on sale).  Superstore was next, where she purchased clothing for her and Eli.  All were on sale, at 50% off, and she got bonus points worth $10 for her purchase.  Next was our longest stop, at Staples for a new laptop for me.  My current laptop is getting battered and making odd noises on occasion.  I picked up a similar one with set-up, virus protection, Microsoft office package, and warranty for $700 total.  Although D isn't working presently, she is an employee of Staples so I got her discount.  I'll give her the old laptop to use as a word processor and photo storage.  It took a bit of time to get the transaction completed, as the sales person was being very careful with the input in the store's system.  D was paying closer attention than I, and she got the impression from hearing a conversation he was having with another salesperson that he'd incorrectly inputted a serial number on an earlier sale.  All went well, and the laptop should be ready for pick up tomorrow. 

Next up was Jysk, though we found nothing there - I'd hope to find pillows, then onto Pet Smart (for wet cat food), and Pet Valu (for cat litter), and finally we made our way to Tim Hortons for breakfast sandwiches and coffee.  Time to go home and unload my car.  After D ran out to the drugstore, she returned to load her car.  Eli was excited to be heading home and we had a heck of a time trying to keep him from following her outside as she transferred presents, shopping, and duffel bag of clothing.  I got him to sit down so I could put his boots on, put them on the wrong feet, and had to start again.  Not on purpose but it did keep him inside briefly! 

They've since arrive home safely.  The installer is still at the house putting in the flooring though it is nearly complete.  We've been texting back and forth, the kitchen is nearly complete with only the areas under the appliances, the front hall closet, and the small area below the stairs.  He figures he'll be done today and D is hopeful, as she would like her house back.

Well, I'll wrap this up as I need to straighten out the house a bit.  The bedding should be ready to go in the dryer.  A little mister found the Finish Jet dry liquid under the sink and poured some of it out on my bed!  The toys have been rounded up and are back in the toybox in the spare room, dishes are done, and the cat food put away.  Since C is working tomorrow I'll wait until then to mop floors and vacuum.  He's back in bed fast asleep!  

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  We certainly did!  

Edit - I forgot to mention I bought myself an Instapot.  Several of the blogs I read mentions using one.  The sale was terrific, more than 50% off the regular price so I jumped.  A new toy!

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Merry Christmas!!

Wishing each and every one of my readers a happy and joyous Christmas.  

Enjoy your day however you chose to spend it. 

Saturday 21 December 2019

All I want for Christmas

This retirement gig is great; I think this is the most relaxed I've ever been the week prior to Christmas.  The gifts are purchased, wrapped, and tucked away. Christmas cards were mailed a couple of weeks ago, and I'm hearing from recipients they've been received.  The tree has been up and decorated for several weeks. One of my favorite things in the morning is to sit in the peace of my home with just the Christmas lights on the tree.  It's a time for quiet reflection with a cup of coffee to start my day in a gentle way.

I've finished baking too, with another batch of gingerbread cake and shortbread.  Between what I've given to friends and what we've eaten, we were out of both!  I made my first (and last) batch of peppermint bark.  It's the last because of the mess I made making it.  I dropped the hot bowl of chocolate into the tray, it splashed up resulting in a mess on me, the counter and even the floor!  I did successfully make a batch of caramel popcorn...I'm not good with a candy thermometer (can't read the numbers) but I found a recipe that didn't require one.  With peanuts and M&M's mixed in, it's delicious.  The one annoyance is that the recipes are always so large, I actually quartered this one and ended up with a decent sized container.  Since I was feeling ambitious I also made a favorite of my daughter's, toffee caramel bar.  We have lots of treats now!

My brother and his family will be here on Sunday for our annual Christmas get together.  They're going to a movie with P's sister, to celebrate Li's birthday and will make a brief stop here prior to attending the movie.  It's the one day that their children are available.  K and his girlfriend S both work, and daughter L is involved in basketball, band, volunteer work and highschool homework.  

After the stitch and make on Wednesday I stopped by the grocery to pick up a few items for munchies.  I'm sure they'll not need much but it wouldn't Christmas if the table wasn't groaning.  I already had pepperoni, salami, cheese and crackers as well as baking, so I picked up a bag of mandarin oranges and a veggie tray to add to the snacks.  

Wednesday morning, I had breakfast with C and another previous co-worker, D.  It's the first time in a year since we've met so there was lots to catch up on.  Some good, D's daughter has made him a grandpa this year, some bad, as he had to put his dog to sleep due to illness.  We all agreed we'd try to get together again in March.  After breakfast I headed off to the thrift stores to see what I could find in the sewing/crafting areas.  
 I picked up this crochet thread for $3.99, when a new ball at Walmart would be $4 (plus taxes) on it's own.  The second was a great deal, a Debbie Mumm cross-stitch kit for $3.99.  Similar kits are selling on E-Bay for $20-$40US!  I'll tuck it away for another day.

From Value Village I headed to the Salvation Army store.  There was nothing in the crafting section so I wandered through the housewares.  I found eight of these small luncheon plates, for $.99 each, as well as a stocking hanger for Eli.  When I got to the till I learned that all the Christmas were on sale for 50% off.  Total cost for the plates and the hanger was $4.45!  Just as well I didn't know as I probably would have bought more.  The plates will come in handy with company but I already have a set of four place settings for our family Christmas.

Since I'm having company I've made a bit more effort with the house cleaning. While I did the regular stuff, washing floors, vacuuming, bathrooms, laundry, and cleaning cat litter, I spent time putting things back to where they belong.  I have a habit of bringing stuff from my craft room to the living room.  Several balls of yarn, a bag of fibre stuffing, books, pens, recycling, and cat toys were all gathered up and put away.  I also cleaned up some leftover fingerprints from Eli's last visit that I've somehow overlooked!  Apparently he was painting with blueberries on the window looking into the sunroom.  In my defence the garbage can sits in front of that window so I didn't initially see it.  Surprise!

Speaking of Eli, while he and his mom were at the indoor park on Monday, the furnace and hot water heater were installed.  She did have to keep him out of the house for another hour and a bit, so they wandered the grocery store and picked up something to eat at A&W on their way home.  Today, the flooring will be delivered as it needs to acclimate for 48 hours.  The flooring company has a worker who will install it while over Christmas.  When she gets home on the 26th, the job should be complete!  She's definitely looking forward to that.  

I'll wrap this post up with a couple of photos of my neighbour's lights from last night.  As it gets closer to Christmas the traffic on our cul de sac increases exponentially.  He does a wonderful job of the lights and music, and outside the house is a large Candy cane where visitors can make a donation to charity.  

As tomorrow will be busy, I'll post this early.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday 17 December 2019

In remembrance

This is a photo of a framed photo that hangs in my bedroom.  This my mom with her siblings; from left to right, Aunt Anne, Aunt Enid, mom (Betty), and Uncle Bob.  Based on my estimate that mom was about 15 in the photo, I'm guessing it was taken around 1943. 

Mom passed away sixteen years ago yesterday.  She would have been 75 just nine days later on Christmas day.  I still remember that day and the hours that my brother and I spent with her before she passed. She had been ill for some time, pain a constant companion,  and while I would never have been entirely ready for her passing, it was a relief when she took her last breath.  

A memory showed up in my Facebook feed and while I wrote in in 2014, I mean every word as much today as I did then.

No matter that we didn't always see eye-to-eye, I miss her. I miss the Sunday afternoon telephone conversations, catching up on the news (or maybe it was gossip). I miss visiting while we (or who I am kidding, while she) cooked a holiday meal. I miss her acerbic wit (even when it was directed at me), her toughness in the face of the pain that her constant companion, and her spirit. She may not have been perfect but she was pretty damn special.
There isn't a week that goes by that I don't think of something she said or did. When I travel as I did yesterday, I imagine her in the passenger seat of my car, keeping me safe.
We may grow old, but I don't think we ever grow up to the point where we no longer miss our parents.

Love you mom!

Every Christmas dinner with my children we share memories of the times we spent with mom/grandma.  There are the funny stories - the time she substituted salt for sugar in the brownies.  There are the sad/funny stories - the time she had her first stroke on Christmas Eve and how I messed up the dressing by putting too much sage in it and the gravy had dumplings in it courtesy of my older brother.  (I did say she did the cooking, after that year I paid much more attention).  There are the stories that I share from when I was a child - all the years that a neighbour couple came to the house on Christmas morning to have coffee and present a card with 4 quarters in it for her birthday.  Oh, and the time mom mentioned she wanted liqueur glasses for Christmas.  I proudly went to the local department store and purchased 6 shot glasses.  Oops...

I was an adult before I truly realized how short changed she was having to share her birthday with the celebration of Christmas.  The last few years we would set aside her birthday gifts for after dinner so that the attention was all least for a few minutes.  

This Christmas we'll continue our tradition of remembrance of mom/grandma.  There were be laughter, and perhaps a few tears.  But as my daughter said to me yesterday, "Grandma is always watching and paying attention".  I'm sure she is.

Sunday 15 December 2019

Baby, it's cold outside

Someone needs to tell Mother Nature that it's not officially winter until December 21.  On Monday the cold air of the Arctic came blowing in and the temperatures dropped throughout the day.  I met my friend K for lunch and just from the car to the restaurant took my breath away!  

We had a lovely visit over lunch.  She and J are off to Arizona soon so we won't see each other until early 2020.  Lucky people!  I so wish I could get away but that's not happening, unless that lottery ticket in my wallet turns out to be the winner (it was not). I can only be thankful that I don't have to go out unless I want to.  

Despite the cold, D and Eli were back in Regina on Tuesday.  Eli had an allergist appointment that morning.  Great news, she doesn't feel that he has any other allergies and since he hasn't had an episode since last summer, she isn't concerned about his egg allergy either.  His mom will offer them on occasion but won't be in too big of a rush to get him to eat them.  J was with them, but decided to hang out with some friends before he was to fly out the next morning.  I'm pretty sure he was tired of being dad, after only a week.  AND it turns out he "slept in", missed his flight, and had no money to pay the change fee.  So initially he told my daughter he was looking for work to get enough cash together to fly home - I assume trying to get my daughter to give him the money.  As most of you know, I'm not a fan of this guy and I seriously considered giving the money to him myself however his mother came through with the cash to permit his flight change. Hooray!

I did venture out both Wednesday and Thursday.  I met the stitch and make group at the library.  There were only four of us - I'm sure the cold weather kept some home while prep for Christmas is probably in full swing too.  On Thursday I met my friend C for coffee.  We've changed coffee shops as the original spot was noisy, and while this current shop is busy they do have a quieter area off the side.  We had a good visit, chatting about a wide variety of topics.

I'm in a happy place again this week as another Grand Slam event is being televised (started Thursday morning). Oh, and I bought my Christmas present to myself - a weekend ticket to the next event being held here in Saskatchewan.  It's not far from D and Eli so I'll stay with them and drive back each day.  

I'm also feeling much better, still get the occasional coughing spell so still getting rid of some gunk, but the energy level is definitely up.  I got caught up on some housework, finished another baby blanket and started another, and as Eli would say, "ta da", I got my sugar cookies decorated.  I left three plain for Eli to decorate on Christmas Eve for Santa.  (At his mother's request....won't that be fun?)  

Saturday, I awoke to severe cold warnings.  The temperature at 7 a.m. (omg the cat's let me sleep in!) was -26C (-15F) with windchills of -35C (-31F).  Yikes, I'm so glad I hd no errands that need to be run.  I got the shovelling done on Friday as we'd had snow overnight.  Not a lot as you can see, but at least it was only -18C (0F) when I was clearing the driveway.  Best of all the sun was shining.  With the short daylight hours it's always wonderful to see the sun.

Funny story starring Eli - D called me Saturday morning to tell me.  He was misbehaving, she'd given him a warning that if he put his fingers in the butter again, she'd put him in time out. The little stinker went upstairs, grabbed his suitcase, came downstairs and told his mom, "I go Grandma".  We both laughed and he got away with his naughtiness.  I guess that means I (we) are a bit soft on the little guy....and he's already figured that out! 

Today it's warmed up considerably, just -11C (12F) and although I've not been outside I'm sure it will feel balmy.  I'll go out a little later to feed the birds before the curling is on. I'm currently watching a program on Animal Planet - it's a free preview for a month.  I think if I were to add any channels it probably would be this one.  I've learned so much from the various rescues and it is amazing the work that is being done for dogs, cats, bears, monkeys, and so many other animals.  The other night, I was laying in bed watching a show about lions and Saku watched with me for nearly 20 minutes!

Enough blather from me.  Have a wonderful week ahead!

One last note:  Connie,  the picture at the end of the previous post is of Saskatchewan.  It's the Qu'Appelle Valley north and west of Regina near my brother's home.  The photo is taken at the top of the valley near where R and  climbed this fall.  Looks a little different now!  And yes, I have an HP printer.  Next time I'm in the market I'll have to compare ink prices. 

Saturday 7 December 2019

Jingle bells, jingle bells....cough, cough, cough

Since I still wasn't feeling well, Monday was a quiet day.  I managed to get the rest of my Christmas wrapping done and all most of the gifts moved to the spare room closet (out of the reach of a little visitor). 

This cold kicked my butt for much of the week but by Tuesday I was feeling a bit of cabin fever.  I headed out to Walmart to print a few pictures, to Staples to print my Christmas letter, to Shopper's to post the Christmas cards and letters, and to Safeway to pick up the last couple of gift cards.  Hooray, Christmas preparations, with the exception of a bit of baking, is complete!

A little rant here.  I have printer at home, but my color cartridge is pretty much done.  I could have picked up another color cartridge but that would have cost me at least $75, or I could buy a new printer with a cartridge for a similar price. It's crazy that the cartridge alone is as expensive as the printer.  Since I don't do a lot of color printing AND I have a perfectly fine printer/scanner/copier I decided to print the letters at Staples instead.  It was pretty easy, they have self-serve kiosks, and you pay for both the time used on the computer as well as the copying.  My cost was about $25 so I can do this for three years before buying another cartridge or printer is an economic possibility.

Thankfully by Wednesday I was feeling some better as D and Eli came to visit.  I have to be on my toes with that little guy*.  They were here to pick up Eli's dad from his flight late that evening.  I had met my friend C for coffee that morning, and when I returned to the house they were there and Eli was busily eating me out of house and home lunch. That child has a very good appetite!  

His mother ran out to run an errand; while she was away, Eli and I made a small batch of cookies. 
These are brown sugar shortbread with a surprise in the center.  I flattened the cookies, Eli dropped in a few chocolate chips, and then I wrapped the cookie around the chips.  In the meantime, Eli continued to eat the chocolate!  He enjoyed a couple cookies later that afternoon.

It was D's birthday on Thursday so since she was here we ordered in Chinese food for dinner from her favorite local restaurant.  We ordered a dinner for three and an order of ginger beef as it is a family fave.  Eli has never tasted it so D put a piece on his plate, he picked it up, set it down, and she ate it.  She introduces new foods this way, he'll touch, then next time he'll often taste it, and if he likes it the third time he asks for more.  He does enjoy fried rice, chicken balls, and ate a bit of the vegetable chop suey.  There was enough food that I sent some home with D, kept some for my son and I, and we all were able to enjoy it the following night for dinner.  There was even enough chop suey left over, that I added some more veg to it and made a lunch for myself.

I did manage to get off my duff on Thursday, pretty much had to as I had an early nail appointment that morning.  I got some laundry done, made up the bed with fresh sheets and looked longingly at it as I would have liked to have climbed back in, cleaned the kitchen, changed the cat litter, and finally finished a third crocheted snowflake.  I pinned the snowflakes to a piece of cardboard and tried to spray them with some fabric stiffener.  I was stymied as Eli had pulled the sprayer off the bottle!  But they do seem to be (mostly) holding their shape.  

I didn't go for dinner with my friend C on Friday as she had something come up.  It was another quiet day as I continued to battle this cold.  I think I've gone through 2 full boxes of Kleenex and are well into the third.  It's annoying as I'd like to be finishing off my baking, but that's not happening while I've still got this cold.  Thankfully I have lots of programs PVR'ed to watch, a crocheting project to work on, and I don't need to leave the house.  

I'll post this on Saturday because the weekend will be pretty boring.  :)  I'll share this photo my brother sent me from one of his runs in the valley. Have a great weekend and week ahead everyone!

*Funny story - I had left the gifts for my brother and his family in a shopping bag in my closet.  D and I were chatting in the living room, we thought Eli was watching Paw Patrol in my bedroom, when we heard the sound of paper being torn.  We both headed to see what was going on.  Eli had just finished opening my niece's gift and as we entered the room, he turned to us and said "ta da".  We both had to laugh!  The gift has since been rewrapped and all of the gifts are now in the spare bedroom closet.

Sunday 1 December 2019

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

And indoors, this Grandma is feeling about the same.  It seems I've picked up the cold that Eli is currently getting over.  If you've read my blog for awhile, you'll know I don't do sick well. I tend to whine, complain, and sleep a lot.  I've got an ear ache (just one), a sore throat, plugged up sinuses resulting in a head ache, and I feel like I've been run through a wringer washing machine backward.  I'm pretty my readers know what that is. :)

Thankfully I didn't feel that way when I was visiting with the little guy.  It only came on as I was driving home, though I simply thought I was tired.  I'd put that up to the fact Eli was awake at 5 a.m. that morning, and though his mom tried to keep him quiet, we were all mobile before 6.  By the time I reached home, I was heading for the medicine cabinet, and I was in bed and asleep by 8:30 Thursday evening.  

I didn't sleep particularly well, as I was awake several times before I got out of bed at 6:30 a.m. on Friday.  I looked outside and groaned as we had gotten 3-4 inches of snow throughout the night.  My son was up, getting ready for work at 7, so I headed outdoors to start the shovelling.  I wanted to clear the driveway before he drove over it, as it packs the snow down. (He did give me heck when he got home and said it could have waited until he returned.  We disagree on this point.)  I spent about 40 minutes outside, clearing the driveway, sidewalks, and part of the front patio.  The bird feeder was empty so I made to fill it as I'm sure they (and probably the squirrel) would be hungry.  The temperature was forecast to reach -5C (23F) with light snow flurries for much of the day.

Back at D's, it's been two weeks since the flood in my daughter's house, and no word yet from the insurance company.  She's finding the wait very difficult, living with just the subfloor.  Did I mention that based on the dates of the plywood, the flooring was replaced in 2009?  The fellow who showed up on Wednesday morning to do the measurements for the flooring was certain he'd done same in the house several years ago.  She has decided to go with vinyl planking rather than laminate flooring.  The vinyl planking is waterproof while laminate is not, both are durable, pet friendly, so are a good choice for her.  We found some at the local Home Hardware that she liked, so hopefully the flooring store will have a similar product.

We spent some of our time at the indoor park.  The program is available Monday to Friday as well as two Saturdays a month, running from 9:30 to noon each day.  It's a great place for Eli to play with other children, with a wide variety of toys, books, and equipment.  Here are a few photos of the little guy having fun!

 Yes, he desperately needs a haircut!  His dad is here next week so I suggested D could have J hold Eli hates having his bangs cut.  I think he dislikes getting the small pieces of hair in his eyes.
Back at the house, we spent some time tidying up the main floor, and I convinced her that Eli has more than enough toys especially with Christmas coming.  She gathered up a large tote bin and will bring them to the city next week.  There is a local store that sells gently used children's clothing and toys - they purchase the items from individuals.  D sent home four bags of clothing as well, all of which need to be ironed.  I think she thinks I might do it for her...  We'll see, if I have the time and inclination.

She was also able to do a bit of shopping on her own. Eli is not the easiest kid to shop with, although he sits in the cart nicely he has a bad habit of adding things to the cart, especially at the checkout.  It is very frustrating to D, so when we stopped at the dollar store on Wednesday afternoon, I kept him away by the door.  He wasn't very happy with me but we both survived.  

I did get out for a bit of shopping on Black Friday.  My target was Safeway for toilet paper and paper towel at less than $5 a package.  I also found Fancy Feast cat food at 50 cents a tin, so grabbed some of that as well.  I didn't feel up to dinner on Friday evening, so let C know I'd see her next week.  In fact, all I did was veg on the couch until 7, when I climbed into bed for the night. 

I woke through the night with a nasty cough.  So Saturday was a quiet day.  I did a bit of housework, laundry, dishes, and cleaned cat litter.  There is a curling event on so I've been watching that, while crocheting another baby blanket.  No, these aren't for gifts, just using up leftover yarn.  D and I were talking about the potential of selling these through our local buy and sell group. I'll wait until I have a fair number of them before I decide to do that.

I did have one finish last week while I was watching the Grey Cup game.  I used up bits of yarn making this week snowman.  The eyes and buttons are supposed to be French knots, a stitch I've never mastered.  So I tried a cross stitch one direction and turned it to make a second stitch.  As you can see they didn't work well, but I've never seen a piece of coal that was perfectly round so....they are what they are.  I gave it to D and she loved it. 

Speaking of D, she sent me this photo on Saturday.  She and Eli went the Christmas pancake breakfast at the indoor playground where he got to see Santa.  D said he was the youngest child to be willing to sit on Santa's knee.  At first he was a little shy, but Santa gave him a tickle and he giggled. 

As you can see the children were able to wear their pajamas to the breakfast.  Isn't he just adorable?  And I don't mean Santa, though he has a great beard and moustache.  

Today, I have to make a dash to Walmart to pick up more Neocitran and some cold and flu tabs.  I've been using Buckley's cough syrup - like the advert says "hate the taste but it works!".  Last night was another rough one, as I woke several times with the coughing. My ribs hurt!   Other than that, I'll watch the curling finals, do a bit more crocheting, and I plan to make a pizza for supper.  

Sorry for this rambling post, I couldn't seem to get my head around putting it into some logical order.  Have a great week everyone!

Sunday 24 November 2019


Well, that didn't end well.  Our football team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders did not win the West Division final, so we're not heading to the Grey Cup this year. :(  Oh well, like many other things in this world, there's always next year.  It does leave me in a bit of a conundrum.  Who do I cheer for this weekend?  The Hamilton Ti-Cats from the east, or our nemesis, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers from the west?  Decisions, decisions.  (To be honest, I really won't care, as long as it is a well played game).

In the meantime I've been watching some of the European curling championships. TSN has been kind enough to televise the afternoon draw (early morning for me), and since my regular programming has been disrupted by the impeachment inquiry hearings, it's been a blessing.  Is anyone watching those hearings?  I'll wait for the sound-bites myself.  If I understand the process correctly, it will not matter if the Congress does decide to impeach, the Senate can decide not to hold a trial.  Since the upper Chamber (is that a Canadian/English term) is held by the Republicans, this might all be for naught.  

On the home front, this has been a week of house cleaning. (Except when I'm watching curling, of course).  I must admit I've let things slide a bit, so went hard to try to get the house back into "showing" condition.  Once exception, my side table in the living room.  Earlier this week it held the two beanies I made, a finished mitten, the pattern for the mitts, two remotes, a ball of crochet thread and a partially completed snowflake, a notebook with the list of my Christmas baking, two napkins, and my cup of coffee.  I did clear some of it, but even now it's a mess because I've added another small project, the pattern book, and my hand lotion. Do you have an area in your home that's a catch-all?

I did not go out to visit D and Eli after all.  She decided it would be best for me to wait until next week.  By then the decisions on her insurance claim should be made.  Maybe, just maybe I'll get to help her pick out the new flooring!  

So I did a bit of on-line shopping instead.  I ordered this little tree from Michaels and picked it up the following day in store.  It's not as full as I would have liked but once I play with the branches a bit more and fill in the gaps with decorations I'm sure it will look quite lovely. I had gotten rid of the large tree I've had for years last spring during my purge.  It was pretty ratty and quite heavy.  This one I can carry and put together easily. I even paid attention to how it came out of the box, so am hopeful I'll be able to fit it back in for storage. 

I resisted the urge to buy more yarn at Michaels while I was there, though did pick up some fabric stiffening spray.  When/if I ever finish crocheting these snowflakes I'll use the product to starch them.  

On Thursday I popped over to Superstore.  They had family sized packages of chicken breast ($2.98/lb) and lean ground beef ($1.98/lb) on sale.  I've got chicken for that price before but not ground beef.  I broke down the packages into smaller portions for freezing.  Remember how I was going to empty out the basement freezer?  Yeah, not so much.  Maybe after Christmas.  While I was doing my wander about th store* I came across a package of 4 Paw Patrol board books on sale 30% off.  I couldn't resist.  Eli loves to be read to and is a huge fan of the puppies.  And G'ma loves to cuddle with him so it's a win/win.

I did get his mittens finished and will find out for certain if they fit when I drive out to visit on this upcoming Tuesday.  

Another near finish, on Saturday as I watched the finals of the European championship curling, I managed to get the majority of my Christmas gifts wrapped and labelled.  Glad I did as I'm missing two Santa gifts that I'll pick up later this shopping allowed after December 1st, except for a few groceries.  I've reached my financial limit and I'll avoid the crowds too.

Today, I'm puttering about, watching a bit of PVR'd television, working on my knitting project, and waiting for the Grey Cup game to start.  That won't be until early evening though the pre-game starts at noon. (I won't be watching all of that program!)  I've been out to feed the birds - it's just around the freezing mark so for late November not a bad day at all.  I should go for a walk but I probably won't. 

Have a good week everyone!

*I like to think I wander the aisles to get my steps in.  But really I love browsing.

Sunday 17 November 2019

If at first you don't succeed

I decided to start my Christmas baking on didn't go so well. First off, I was looking for recipes that do not include egg as Eli has an allergy.  I found what I thought sounded good; butter, brown sugar, milk, graham wafer crumbs, chocolate chips and walnuts.  I mixed up the batch and baked about 4 1/2 dozen mini baking cups of these cookies.  I thought there was an odd smell in the kitchen as they baked but decided it was my imagination.  After they cooled, my son and I both tested them.  Eww, there was something off and we both agree it was the chopped walnuts.  I went to the garbage bin and pulled out the bag, checking the best before date - October 2016.  Oops!  How did I miss that when I did my last fridge clean out?  Suffice to say that batch made its way to the bin, pronto!

Thankfully the following day I had better luck with my first batch of shortbread.  While I used a new-to-me recipe, it turned out very well.  I love the buttery taste of shortbread and so does my son, so I'm know this batch will disappear in short order.  It may be the first batch but it won't be the last.

Later in the week I made a pan of a gingerbread cake.  Another oops!  Somehow or another, the oven got turned off in the middle of baking.  When I finally wized up and realized it, and finishing cooking the cake the outside was a bit well done but at least the center was cooked through. But that wasn't the end of it.  I turned the cake out onto the board, flipped it over and part of the top came off.  It sure doesn't look pretty but it tastes fantastic While I intended to gift most or all of it, this cake won't be going anywhere.  At that point, all I could think was hopefully I'd have better luck with the next one! 

By Friday afternoon, I'd baked another gingerbread cake, another batch of shortbread (using my tried and true recipe), made a pan of butterscotch taffy, and had cookie dough chilling in the fridge. AND everything looked and tasted great!  But that wasn't all the excitement that day, as I received a frantic call from D that morning.  A water pipe had burst in the house, the water was flowing throughout the main floor and the basement had several inches on the floor as well.  She was trying to mop it up but was overwhelmed by the flooding.  We didn't know where the shut-off valve was, so she called a plumber who came over and shut it off. 

He discovered a pipe in the bathroom off the kitchen had literally "popped off".  This wasn't an old pipe from when the plumbing would have put into the house, probably in the 50's or 60's but a PVC pipe from the 1990's.  D called the insurance company to make a claim while the plumber went to his shop to get some parts.  He returned and left the old pieces with D, in case the insurance company wanted to see them.  In the meanwhile the insurance got in touch with a local restoration company to get the process of cleaning up the water, checking the furnace and water heater in the basement, and for any damage upstairs.  They will prepare a quote for the insurance company but based on D's conversation with the adjuster it sounds like they will approve it all.  

After the restoration company had arrived and done their walk-through, D called me.  Oh boy, this is going to be a real process.  Both the furnace and water heater will need to be replaced even though both are functioning at the moment. 

ALL of the flooring on the mainfloor will need to be replaced as well, as there was already buckling in the dining room, and the flooring goes throughout the main floor.  In addition, they told her they want to start ripping out the flooring today because of mold concerns.  So D and Eli went for a drive to a larger center, where she did some Christmas shopping, to allow the guys to get the work done.  Luckily the temperature was hovering above freezing so the cats could hang out in the sunroom and out of the way of the workers.  When she returned a few hours later all of the flooring was up, and the fans were in place.  Amazingly they worked around her furniture and everything was back in their normal placement as well.  

I did get out of the house as well this week.  Groceries were picked up on Tuesday, I met friends for breakfast and went to stitch and chat on Wednesday.  Friday evening, C and I went out to the Regina Golf Club to the annual dinner put on by our local AirForce association.  The dinner brings together young air cadets, their cadet leaders, members of the Snowbirds including pilots and aircraft technicians, AirForce assocation members and friends.  This night, the guest of honor was our Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, Russ Merasty and his wife Donna.  The meal was great and we had a good group at our table.  

I got started on a new cross stitch project at the afternoon stitch group.  I'd picked up the kit at the Salvation Army thrift store for just a few dollars.  I've finished up a few projects and simply grabbed it to give me something to do.  

In the meantime, this is one of my latest finishes.  I had lots of this orange yarn, so I crocheted myself a slouchy hat. It's bright enough I shouldn't lose it anywhere, right?

I used the same yarn to make matching beanies for my D and Eli.  I actually made the larger one first thinking it might fit Eli, but I could wear it, so I revised the pattern slightly to make the smaller version.  I've started crocheting a pair of mittens for Eli of the same yarn since I still have some left.  I've never crocheted mittens, only knitted, so these are an experiment in the making.  So far, I've unravelled the first mitt twice because I wasn't happy with the way it was looking. 

Sunday is shaping up to be a relaxing day, at least most of it.  I got a notification just before 8, that CBC was live streaming the quarter finals of curling from an event in Halifax, so I have that running on my laptop as I write this.  Later there are two football games, the East and West Division finals, and our Riders are playing the the second game.  You can bet I'll be glued to the television and the poor cats will be running from the room as I cheer from my couch. 

Enjoy your day everyone!