Friday 31 December 2021

Happy New Year!

I'm finding it hard to believe that 2021 is ending but I won't be sad it see it leave. I certainly hope that 2022 won't be quite as difficult for so many as this year has been.

I'm not one to make resolutions, but that doesn't mean I don't have plans for the year ahead. I'll share more of those in the next few weeks. 

This morning, I took the time to read through the posts I've made for 2021. If I were to sum up the year in one sentence, it would be weather, curling, crafting, knitting, crocheting, housework, some renovations, visitors to the back yard, visits with D and Eli, and nature walks. There have been some ups and some downs, but we've made it through another year. Thank you all for being there with me.

To all of my readers, I wish you all a healthy, joyful and happy New Year!

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Almost Wordless Wednesday


I'm so glad I'm retired and have no need to leave the house today.

Monday 27 December 2021

Christmas 2021

And just like that, it's over. The presents have been opened, the food has been eaten (or most of it), the cuddles and kisses have been shared, and the house is quiet once more. Saku, the cat, is quite pleased to have it so. I'm a little sad but we had nearly 3 inches of fresh snow yesterday and now the temperatures are plummeting so I'm happy D and Eli went home yesterday ahead of the storm.

We had a lovely couple of days. D and Eli arrived here about 9:30 a.m. Christmas Eve. She left him with me while she and friend did some shopping. He and I were having our lunch when she arrived back at the house. About 1 p.m. we left to drive out to the farm to visit with my brother and his family. Oh, what fun we had!

Their son, my nephew K has two dogs, Whistler and Rider, while R and P have a German shepherd Cola, and two cats, Callie and Kelfie. We had assumed Eli would be afraid of the dogs, and they of him, but it turned out that Whistler thought he was the greatest toy. The two played together and tussled both indoors and out. In the photo Eli was rolling down the hill and Whistler came to protect him (I think). I just know they were both having fun by the giggles from Eli.

Their house is a three story stone house built in or about 1906. K took Eli up the stairs and showed him the back and front stairs leading to the third floor. He spent the next twenty to thirty minutes grabbing one of us by the hand to show us the secret passages. The only space he didn't discover was the basement and he thought that was creepy. He's right, it is! :)

My niece L, made up a plate of baked Camembert, pomegranate and honey for all to share while we visited. Later after a walk in the snow down to the barn to visit the horses and donkey, followed by a short walk on the trail to the renovated shed (moved from my back yard), we all headed back indoors for hot cocoa and shared some of the baking I'd brought for them. (Sorry no photos of the horses Kim - we were too busy feeding them carrots). 

On our way back into the city we were stopped by a train. I asked D to text her brother to pre-heat the oven. There was a reason why I prepped that morning, it just needed to be reheated when we arrived home. By 8 p.m., other than my son, the rest of us were tucked up in our beds. I read for a bit but the lights were out not long after. 

Christmas morning arrived early, but not as early as I'd initially thought it might.  I heard D and Eli moving around the bedroom, and it wasn't long before the little guy was skipping down the hallway saying "good morning Grandma." He watched some cartoons before his mother gave him his stocking to open. Silly girl, she'd forgotten the bag of items for his stocking at home, but there were a couple of items that she'd had shipped here (for some reason Amazon wouldn't ship crayons to her small town - weird!), I had a book tucked away, some candy canes, and she looted a gift bag her friend had given her for Eli that had gummy candy. It was enough.  

The two of us made breakfast, bacon and French toast, and the three of us sat at the table to enjoy our breakfast together. My son C is a late riser, but we sent Eli down to wake his uncle about 9:30. After C got his coffee and had a smoke in the garage it was finally time to open our gifts. I was the designated "Santa" with my little helper. I'd read the tags and he'd take the gift to the recipient or in his case, sit down to open the present. Eli had, as always quite the haul.

The cookies to his left are his uncle's but the two shared some. Eli is playing a PacMan game - what is old is new again.

Speaking of which, here is one of my gifts from my children. The new hand mixer has it's own carrying case that hold the attachments, including dough hooks, beaters, and a whisk. The old one, it's meant to replace, is about 40 years old (maybe more), and the cord tends to pull out of the connector to the mixer. I was teasing my daughter because the Black and Decker comes with a 3 year warranty so I told her I'd keep the old one as a back-up. :) 

After our Christmas brunch, I got the chicken into the crock pot. I used a recipe from for slow cooked chicken and stuffing. I would do it again but reduce the amount of liquid. We took as much of the stuffing out of the pot just before serving and fried it up in a pan with some butter before adding it to another batch of stove top stuffing. It was just too wet otherwise. But the meal was great and we enjoyed some time just chatting about Christmas's past. My children are 6 years apart in age, and I learned they have very different memories. It shouldn't surprise me but some things really did.

Before D and Eli left on Boxing Day morning, the three of us made a trip to Walmart, where she picked up a new television at a very reasonable price. Her old plasma television, that she bought for $50 is scratched and colored on, is well past it's prime. She uses a firestick to access programming. This Roku Smart television will make her access easier and more reliable when I deliver it later this month...her vehicle was too full to take it home!

We definitely had a fun filled couple of days. Once they were on their way, I simply relaxed, watched a bit of television, started a new book, and later caught the Canada-Czech junior hockey game. Today is soon enough to start the housework again. 

I hope everyone reading had a nice Christmas, celebrated as you prefer it to be, and with time to relax.  

Thursday 23 December 2021

One more sleep

I'm posting this earlier in the week because Eli and his mom will be here on tomorrow morning. She's planning to drop him off to go shopping with a friend so the fun will start early. I've been counting down the days to their visit - this is the Christmas he'll be old enough to remember. 

Back to the weekend, on Saturday afternoon I started to feel a bit unwell. I felt warmish, had a sore throat and a bit of cough. It was an early night, and before I went to bed I took a tablespoon of Buckley's cough medicine. For those not familiar with it, it tastes a lot like spruce gum and if you've never tasted that , imagine the smell of a spruce or pine tree with antiseptic as a taste. As their slogan says, "it's awful, but it works." After a long winter's sleep (nearly 9 hours), I woke feeling absolute fine. I have to assume it was the effects of the booster shot as the cough and sore throat have disappeared. Buckley's works well, but not that quickly.

The cold has stayed with us, except overnight Saturday into Sunday. We had a brief respite with temperatures rising to -8C (18F) by 6 a.m. and then the temperature starting dropping again. I headed out about 8:30 a.m. to clear the driveway. It was -13C (9F) with a wind chill of -26C (15F). The wind was wicked cold, and I was happy to finish in less than 20 minutes.

Beyond that, Sunday was a lazy day. I watched the semis and finals of two curling events. They were being aired at the same time, so I had one on the television and the other on the laptop. More knitting was accomplished and there were just a few inches left to finish on the scarf. After the curling I worked on a jigsaw puzzle, and still later I had the NFL on television and started reading Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train. I'm nearly 100 pages in and quite enjoying it though I must admit I can't quite tell where the story is going. That's not a bad thing.

Monday was house cleaning day. Time to tuck away all the incomplete projects, clear off the end tables of tchotchkes, paper, books, and other clutter that seems to congregate there. I washed floors and vacuumed rugs, scrubbed bathrooms, and dusted. I certainly made up for the lazy Sunday! The main floor was completed by late afternoon.

On Tuesday I did the grocery shopping. Oh boy, I have totally this month's budget. But the pantry, freezer and fridge are bulging at the seams so I should be good for some time now. I've all of the necessities for our Christmas Eve dinner (mac & cheese and hot Italian sausage - a favorite of both my adult children) and for our meals on Christmas Day. D will probably make French toast in the morning. I have meat, cheese, buns, crackers and various raw veg for a lunch. I'm doing something different for dinner - chicken and dressing in the slow cooker. Potatoes, gravy, more dressing, and peas, carrots, and brussels sprouts for the sides. There are snacks and various desserts as well for nibbles in the evenings. I'm groaning even as I'm writing this. Oh, and G'ma bought a few of Eli's favorite things too, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, blueberries and raspberries. He also loves vegetables. No one will go hungry in this house. :) The only thing I did not find was celery. The produce clerk said they did not receive any on their last truck. We'll be fine without it.

After putting away the groceries, I had my lunch and relaxed for a bit. Then it was time to tackle the basement. I swept up the furnace room area, under the stairs and the space where the cat litter boxes sit. The floors were scrubbed, the cat litter changed, and I replaced the furnace filter. C is responsible for his own area including the bathroom so that was it for the day, after cleaning up after myself, I sat down to work on a jigsaw puzzle. It's coming along slowly.

More snow was in the forecast for Wednesday. I had an errand to run, that I'd forgotten the day before, so headed out early to get it over with. At home I checked the external electrical outlet on the garage as D will need to plug in her vehicle while she's here. For those of you who don't need to do this, in Canada we usually have block heaters in our vehicles which, when plugged in to an electrical outlet, keep the engine warm(ish) so the vehicles kept outdoors will start during our really cold weather. Not that I can't remember times in the past when even that wasn't enough - usually due to a weak battery or failing alternator. 

But the worst, was the year it was close to -40C and we were on our way home from my mom and dad's after Christmas. My mom had sent extra blankets with us for the kids to bundle up in in the back seat - mother's intuition perhaps. We'd travelled about an hour of a four hour drive when the heater in my car gave out. There were no garages open in the town we were nearest to, so I simply turned around and drove that hour back to my parents. We stayed an extra day or two while the car was repaired. 

I digress. The snow didn't start to fall until late afternoon, so I really didn't have to rush out in the morning. Oh well, it gave me time to bake another batch of shortbread, put together a cheese ball for our brunch on Christmas Day, and play with my jigsaw puzzle.

When I got up on Thursday morning, I groaned. WE had about 2 inches of snowfall, maybe more. After a few morning chores and a chat with D, I went out shovel and feed the birds. It took almost an hour to clear the driveway and the sidewalks. The piles are getting higher. It was supposed to warm up this afternoon but that did not happen.

Today's must dos included laundry, so there are clean linens on the bed for D and Eli. I got rid of my spare bed when I had the house listed for sale and haven't replaced. I sleep on the couch, so maybe I'll see Santa in person this year. I also made up a batch of cinnamon buns to take to my brother's tomorrow. They've invited us out for a couple of hours to see Boone, their new miniature horse, the three dogs and two cats, as well as having a visit and exchange gifts. It will the first time in a couple of years that we've been together. I'm a little nervous as the niece (18) and nephew (21) have lives and come in contact with more people than I'm used to. But I'm sure we'll be fine.

Dinner will be made in the morning before we leave - if we're delayed getting home I'll have my son pop the food in the oven. I'm hoping to have that work out of the way before D and Eli arrive. 

I'll end with this photo I sent to Eli the other day. He dislikes wearing socks, as do I, so the photo was to show him that G'ma was wearing her socks. I'm not sure it convinced him to wear his though. :) I do like Christmas socks.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone! I'll be back early next week with a roundup of the craziness that is about to ensue.  

Saturday 18 December 2021

Winter weather, a shot in the arm, and a special visitor

The week started with fog and decent temperatures near freezing. My son took the opportunity to go out and visit D and Eli. He's off work for the next three weeks and he choose the perfect time to take the time off as it's going to be quite cold, at least for the two weeks or more. Daytime temps around -18C (0F) and nighttime temps a few degrees lower. These aren't unusual temperatures for this time of year, we've just had warmer than normal temps up until now and it takes a bit to get accustomed to it again.

I had an appointment on Tuesday at the car dealership to check out the skid plate(s) on the car. If you recall, in September I took it in to my local garage to have it checked out when I had a loud rattle coming from under the car. They added a couple of screws to hold it in place, at least temporarily. When I called the dealership to check out the price of a replacement, I learned there are actually three plates and since they didn't know which one might be the problem, this appointment was to check out the condition. How happy was I to hear that none of the plates needed replacement? Very, and they simply replaced the screws with the appropriate clips. Even better, there was no charge to me! 

So I did what I do best, and took myself to Value Village and Salvation Army to see if I could find some deals. I picked up some items for crafting, as well as a Paw Patrol snack bag for Eli, a pair of OshKosh pants for Eli, and a cardigan and pretty t-shirt for me. Just about $20 for all of these items. The sweater would regularly have been $50, on sale perhaps $30, so I was very pleased with my purchases.

The sweater will be a lovely addition to my cruise wear. Evenings can feel cool, even on a warm Caribbean cruise. And yes, I do intend to cruise again in the future. How soon? That is yet to be determined. 

In the craft items, I found a couple of packages of small Christmas ornaments for 99 cents each. I used one of the packages, along with a small wood plank and some tower blocks to make a tree. 

I have several different trees now, some I've purchased and some I've made. They are displayed on top of my china cabinet. Add in some snowmen and I think I'll keep most of them up all winter...maybe even this one as I love the colors. It's a mini forest. :)

There was light snow on Wednesday morning. Not much accumulation but it blew around. I didn't need to shovel. Then the temperature started falling. 

I was able to book my booster for Friday afternoon at the local Shopper's Drug mart. I had heard/read somewhere that the Sask Health Authority wasn't offering a clinic and appointments had to be booked at pharmacies. Imagine my surprise when I learned on Friday morning that wasn't the case and I could have gone to the drop in clinic nearby. Sheesh, I could have gotten it done earlier when the weather wasn't as cold. In any event, I've had my booster. Only side affect thus far is a sore arm. I know it's important to keep the arm moving, so I'll bake buns today. The kneading will work it out and some of the buns will be frozen for Christmas.

Friday wasn't very nice weather wise, but Friday night was ugggggly. We fell to a low of -27C (-16F) with a wind chill of -37C by morning. That's pretty much the same in Farenheit or Celsius. When I went out to feed the birds this morning, there were a dozen or so waiting in the neighbour's tree for me to fill the feeder. I don't think I'd even gotten into the sunroom before they had swooped in for a feed.

Speaking of which, I had a new visitor to the feeder this week. Typically I see chickadees for the most part, and of course one or more of the Hoovers (squirrels). I was excited to see this female Downy woodpecker. She was feeding on the suet and didn't immediately fly away when I came to the window with my camera.

All the photographers out there will laugh at me. I use the auto focus on my camera because...well, I'm lazy and it is normally easier to let the camera do the work. When I went to take the photo of the woodpecker, this is the original take.

The auto focus would not focus on the bird, just on the screen window. So, for the first time in a long time, I switched to manual focus. It took me several shots to get the one above. It's still a little blurry but much better than the other attempts. Thank goodness the Downy was patient and stuck around!

I'm currently watching the final curling game of the European Olympic qualifiers, Denmark vs. Czech. Later I think I may catch some of an event that's being live streamed from Banff, Alberta. My latest scarf is about half done, and then I plan to get the finished ones washed up and delivered to a warming shelter later this week. They will be needed.

Have a wonderful week ahead everyone. Take care and stay well.

Saturday 11 December 2021

Dealing with winter, dreaming of the beach

The snow started falling on Sunday morning, and by mid-afternoon we had a fresh fall of 3 to 4 inches. I was watching football when I noticed it had stopped, so headed out at half time to clear the driveway. I wanted to get it done because the forecast was for clear and cold weather on Monday. AND that's what we got. -26C/-15F when I woke up that morning. Thankfully the forecast was for temperatures closer to freezing by Wednesday.

With the cold weather I wished I were anywhere but here. A friend just returned from a trip to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic last week and I kept thinking of the sand and the ocean she experienced there. I headed into my photo files and spent some time looking at memories from past visits to my favorite beach; Reduit beach on St. Lucia.

Isn't the beach and scenery beautiful? This photo is at the end of beach, beyond the more touristy area. The locals come to swim here, along with some tourists like myself. I've had the privilege of visiting this area three times, and I'd gladly visit again.

Monday was a day to catch up on housework that didn't get done while I was away last week.  Where, oh where, is the house fairy when I need it? Oh well, since it was cold outside it was a good day to stay indoors anyway. I even did a little baking. One of my daughter's favorites are mini cheesecakes. Since she likes them plain, I tuck them away and only add topping to a few of them when I put them out on the plate. I've been cutting my batches in half because we don't eat much and I no longer take a platter of goodies to the office. 

I got a call from Home Depot that my stove was in and delivery was arranged for Tuesday between 8:30 and 12:30. Hoping for it to be early in the day, but expecting it would be later, I wasn't surprised that the truck did not show up until 12:15. The guys brought it in and hauled out the old one. The older of the two looked at my old stove and said, that's a 17 year old there. He was probably pretty close. I was advised not to plug it in until the stove reached room temperature since all new appliances have computer chips in them. So off I went to do some grocery shopping. 

Oh my, were the stores busy! It was senior's day at Safeway...the place was swarming with us over 60's. Some moving slower than others. They were out of ground beef so I stopped at Co-op on my way home as they had it on sale there as well. Same mob scene there too. While I prefer to do my shopping when the stores are less busy, I did get 10% off the cost of groceries at both stores. I'll take it.

More snow arrived on Wednesday, with warmer temperatures. I spent the morning playing with my new stove. I baked a small batch of chocolate-chocolate chip cookies after pre-heating the oven, allowing it to cool, then pre-heating again. I was warned that there might be a bit of smoke or plastic smell and there was on the first pre-heat, but it was gone and the smell of chocolate soon filled the air. I prepped our evening meal as well, cooking up some macaroni pasta for mac & cheese, and boiled some eggs for egg salad sandwiches for lunch meals. I repackaged the ground beef I'd purchased the day before and made up a meat loaf to put in the oven for dinner. 

After lunch the snow had stopped so I headed out to do more shovelling. I don't think we had more than an inch so it didn't take long. The temperature was a more temperate -9C (16F), and it felt good to be out in the fresh air.

Thursday, I had a couple of items to drop off for Santa's Anonymous at Walmart, and I picked up some candy canes for baking/candy making or simply to gather dust in my cupboard until next Christmas. Since I was out I made a quick run to the Salvation Army thrift store and Value Village. I found a couple of t-shirts for myself at the first store, and a soap dish, some large bows to hang on the front of the house, and a bag containing a wooden Christmas tree, a framed handcrafted item, and a wooden plaque. The framed item was tucked between the tree and the plaque and was a lovely surprise when I opened the bag. I plan to display it after the Christmas decorations are put away.

My daughter needed me to run an errand for her, but I'd forgotten on Thursday (and she hadn't reminded me) so I had to head out again on Friday morning. Since I was out I took the baking for my friends and dropped it off at their doorstep. I made a stop at Bulk Barn too, to pick up caraway seeds for some Irish soda bread. That could have waited until next week but since I was out it made sense to make a stop. That's enough running around for me this week. I'm happy to stay home for the weekend.

Did I mention there is more curling? Yep, this week the senior men and women's provincial teams are battling it out for the Canadian title. There has been some very good curling, proving that curling is a game for all ages. Our Saskatchewan men lost their game this morning, while the women appear to in control of their game. The men's game was streamed, but not the women's. On the football side of things, our Saskatchewan team lost in Sunday's western final. I wasn't surprised at the loss but the game was actually very close and came down to the final play. This weekend will be the Grey Cup (the Canadian championship). 

It's been a very good week here. I'd prefer to have warmer weather but one of the perks of full retirement is the ability to choose when I leave the house, and another is doing as little or as much as I like during the day. My son has made forward progress in dealing what was troubling him - the situation isn't over yet but this momma is proud of him. 

Have a good week ahead everyone. Take care and stay well.

Saturday 4 December 2021

Done like dinner

Phew...I'm going to be happy to see this week reach it's end. It has been busy, tiring, emotionally draining, but with enough fun to make getting through it bearable.

Funny story to start. On Monday morning, I took the garbage out to the bin, and when I came to the front door it was locked. Thankfully, I have a pin pad on my garage door and was able to come through there. Another blogger, Carole had something similar happen to her and wasn't quite as lucky as I was. Happy to report she was able to get back into her home though.

I had a long list of things to do on Monday, and in between tasks I called a locksmith and was able to find someone to come out that afternoon. Upon arrival, he immediately pointed out that the door handle was backwards, and when he took it apart he discovered the latch had broken into several pieces. Since he was here (and a service call costs $80), I asked him to re-key some of the locks. We've lived in this house for over 11 years, and never had the keys for the door handle, only the dead bolt. When he went to back door, he noted the handle was also backwards and even better, the key for the front door dead bolt didn't work in the back door dead bolt. Good thing I never came in that way! He wasn't able to match the keys from the dead bolt to the handles but in about 90 minutes he had the lock fixed, the door handles facing the correct direction and re-keyed the garage door to the dead bolt key and provided keys for the two door handles. One more much needed task off the list of to-do's. I guess is was serendipitous that the latch broke when it did.

It was an expensive morning. I've been fighting with my range for several months but Sunday I reached my limit. Over time the heat elements weren't working properly and even on low heat, the temperature would be high enough to burn things in just a few minutes. I had made breakfast for dinner and after turning the one burner off, I was horrified to see that the burner was turning red though it turned itself off quickly. The stove was here when we moved in, so it was at 15-20 years old. Time for a replacement! Home Depot had a Cyber Monday sale, so I was at the store at 8:45 a.m. and 20 minutes later I had ordered a new stove to be delivered sometime between Dec 6 and 18 (hooray in time for Christmas). The stove was on sale, but better still I didn't have to pay for delivery and haul away. They also had an option of using their credit card and paying it off over 18 months with no interest. While I could have paid immediately for it, I always take the option of using someone else's money and simply make monthly payments so it is paid off within that period.

Groceries, gasoline, and gift cards were also on the to-do list that morning. At home I finished the envelopes for the gift cards, and except for our Christmas meals everything is now done and I can stay home and away from the maddening crowds.

On Wednesday, I headed out in the morning to visit D and Eli. She is having a particularly hard time right now, mostly because she turns 40 this Sunday. Her life is not what she dreamed of as a young woman, and she's finding it difficult to reconcile that the life she has now is most likely better than those dreams may have been. Eli's current struggles add to her feelings of inadequacy. We did have a good visit though and she was able to get her hair done on Friday morning before I left. Something to lift her spirits a little bit.  

Eli and I had fun, as always. He is such a character! He really didn't want to go to school on Thursday morning; he would have preferred to stay home with mom and G'ma, but I asked him to make green choices at school and he did. He even told his teacher at the end of the day that he'd had a good day.  We had a few hours to ourselves on Friday morning while his mom was off to her appointment. Here's a couple of photos of the two of us.  

I was expecting a kiss but I got a zerbert!

This child really dislikes wearing clothing. He does wear his "underwears" when I'm there though. He does run warmer than most people do. On Thursday, I ran out to the recycling bin with some cardboard and plastic the new sofa came in and he came out without a jacket with me (he did put on his winter boots). I foresee a teenager who wears a light jacket and running shoes, no gloves, no toque, even in the coldest weather. Not surprising as my son is the same.

Speaking of my son, he too is having a bit of a rough time. I cannot share the issues he's facing but suffice to say, this momma's heart is aching that he is having to deal with what is happening in his life. I often wish I had a magic wand and could make all that is wrong in life right for my family (and for that matter, the whole world). Thankfully he has some wonderful friends who support him wholeheartedly and were there for him when I was not home.

The drive back home was tense as it was very windy. My little Toyota was buffeted by the winds, and I was exhausted by the time I arrived home. Traffic heading into the city was heavier than normal too, I assume because it was mid-afternoon. The highways were mostly clear, though the passing semi's sprayed dirt and moisture onto my windshield. That reminds me, I need to check my windshield wiper fluid level and make sure I have winter grade in the reservoir.  

Today I'm relaxing; there are couple of curling events being streamed, and the Saskatoon Huskies football team are in the Vanier Cup (Canadian University Championship). I've got a bit of crocheting to work on too. Beyond that I intend to do nothing until it is time to put dinner on and battle with that darned stove again.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Take care!