Saturday 30 December 2023

The calm after the storm

Not much to catch you up on this weekend. I've been rather lazy since returning home on Wednesday. I didn't make it to stitch and chat and Mahjong doesn't start again until next week.

I puttered around the house, handling some housework that needed doing, and made a trip out to Pet Valu on Thursday for cat litter, and dropped off my book at the Library. It was a book written by Jeanine Cummins, American Dirt, a fictional story about a woman and her son running from the Mexican cartel who had killed her husband and many family members. It described their journey through Mexico and across the border into the United States, and the migrants they met along the way. Two of these were sisters from South American, fleeing the brutality of their lives. It was heart-breaking to read in so many ways, but eye-opening (at least for me) of the dangerous conditions that so many face in other countries. Although fictional, the author had done a significant amount of research in order to write the novel.

I liked her writing so much, that I spent some of my Indigo gift card (from my brother and family) on a memoir she wrote about family members. From Amazon here is the summary:

"A Rip in Heaven is Jeanine Cummins’ story of a night in April, 1991, when her two cousins Julie and Robin Kerry, and her brother, Tom, were assaulted on the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River just outside of St. Louis. When, after a harrowing ordeal, Tom managed to escape the attackers and flag down help, he thought the nightmare would soon be over. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Tom, his sister Jeanine, and their entire family were just at the beginning of a horrific odyssey through the aftermath of a violent crime, a world of shocking betrayal, endless heartbreak, and utter disillusionment. It was a trial by fire from which no family member would emerge unscathed."

I haven't started it yet, as I'm reading a book I'd picked up earlier this fall. It's one I can put down and pick up irregularly and continue the story. Good, but not great.

I was feeling antsy on Friday, so made a quick trip to Value Village and the dollar store. I found a lovely t-shirt for myself and a new jigsaw puzzle. I've given up on the one I started before Christmas - it was all browns, grays, and greens that blended into one another. I found myself sorting by shapes, rather than color and pieces that clearly didn't belong together fit together anyway. 

This morning, I put away the old and started the new puzzle - almost all of the edge pieces were located. There are blogs to read, my older book, and if I'm feeling truly ambitious, my crocheting to work on. Or maybe my cross-stitch. Choices, choices. 

New Year's Eve will be spent quietly here at home. D has mentioned that Eli has asked if he can stay up this year. She's agreed, so we'll see how that goes! I did mention, if he's getting too tired to change to another time zone and let midnight come a little earlier. They can watch the ball fall in Times Square and he'll not know the difference. :)

All the best in 2024 to all of my readers wherever you may be. I appreciate your following along this journey. 

Tuesday 26 December 2023

Times flies

When you're having fun, and fun we did have these past three days!

The drive went smoothly, just a wee bit of snow as I got closer to D's and fog in the valley. We had the car unloaded, the presents put under the tree, groceries unpacked, and my bags tucked in Eli's/my bedroom and I was sitting down with a cup of tea by 9:30 a.m. I got away from the city earlier than I expected. 

D's friend M had sent two large bags of clothing, that her youngest had grown out of, for Eli. She sorted through the clothes as we chatted and I folded other clothing from the dryer. After the "new to Eli" clothing was washed and dried, we both went upstairs. She to put the clothes away and I sat down to crochet. Eli has recently sized out of the small sizes and most of these were medium with a few large pieces as well. After putting the clothes away, she gave a huge sigh of relief, as there is enough clothing to last through the next year or so. Except underwear...but Santa came through with a package so he's set. :)

We also made a quick visit to the park. Eli had fun with a dollar store toy that flies. Then a younger girl came by and played hide and seek with him for a bit before we headed home.

After an early dinner, we set out to see the Christmas lights around town. My goodness, there are some beautifully decorated houses!  Most of my photos didn't turn out, but here are a few.

One of the local businesses has been doing a float since 2020, when during the pandemic the annual events were cancelled. They've continued the tradition, and Eli loves seeing the float. He was disappointed when we first drove out as he could hear but not see the float (we were going the wrong direction). However, we eventually caught up to it, not once but twice! I was able to capture the video on our second pass by. Listen for the little voice at the end.

Christmas Eve morning, Eli woke asking if Santa had come and was a bit disappointed to hear he had to wait another day. Throughout the day we watched some television, he played video games, and more laundry was done. (It seems to multiply in this house). Eli and D went out for a bit in the morning, so he could go skating but were home earlier than expected as he wasn't feeling well. In the afternoon, I headed upstairs for some quiet time with my book.

Bedtime came early, with Eli and I reading books. He settled quickly, but spent much of the night wriggling and twisting himself up in the blankets. Suffice to say my sleep was interrupted. About 6 a.m. I sent him downstairs to his mother (she was awake about 3:30 a.m.) and I managed to doze off until 7.

My mother always insisted we eat breakfast before opening presents - I had the same rule and D has carried it on. However, Eli did get to open the gifts in his stocking (of which there were many). He had eaten before I made my way downstairs but waited patiently while D and I had ours. More fun ensued as he handed out the gifts, most were for him, but he was quite willing to lend a hand to us to unwrap ours, so he could move onto the next gift. Another rule: one present is opened at a time so everyone can see what the gift was and appreciate it. I didn't think to take any photos until his mom was busy putting together his best present from Santa (with some help from mom), a Gabby's Dollhouse. Gabby's Dollhouse is an animated cartoon, of a little Hispanic girl who turns herself in an animated version of herself and plays with her kitty friends in her dollhouse. My daughter says the show emphasizes kindness and manners. It's certainly quite a different experience from some of the videos he watches about video games!

D went upstairs to catch a nap while Eli played on his new table, and I watched a movie, Daddy's Home 2. It wasn't the best movie I've ever watched, but it certainly had some fun moments. Of course, being a Christmas movie, it all worked out in end and the Christmas spirit shone through.

We had our Christmas dinner: pork loin roast, dressing/stuffing, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, and gravy. For dessert, though I didn't need it, I had one of the delicious rum butter tarts my daughter made for me. After dishes were loaded in the dishwasher, we sat and watched a bit of television and let our dinners settle. Later, in bed Eli and I watched a few shortened versions of America's Funniest Videos. He particularly enjoyed the videos of the cats versus Christmas trees. 

This morning, we've got some chores to do around the house, and then we're heading out to do a bit of Boxing Day shopping. The options aren't many here in this small town, so it won't take long. In addition, unlike city stores that open at o'dark in the morning, the earliest opening hours here is around 9:30. Much more civilized, don't you think?

I expect we'll head to the park later this afternoon as the temperature is expected to rise to 0C/32F. I'm planning to head back to the city tomorrow, though I'm not certain what time I'll get away. It's been wonderful having lots of time with Eli (and his mom) though I do wish he wasn't such a wriggler in the bed.

Happy Boxing Day everyone!

Saturday 23 December 2023

Here comes Santa Claus!

First off, thanks for the lovely comments on the finally completed Christmas ornaments for my brother and SIL. I started with the reindeer for R, because this is a deer he can't shoot. :p  I was stymied a bit thinking of what to make for P, but Pinterest for the win! These were so easy to make, and I already had the small bells to add (these are tied to the cord from the start of the bell). In addition, these were very simple to make quickly. I've already told D, these are what I will make for Eli's teachers and aides next year.

If you recall, this year I made the small cocoa cups. D gave them each a container of her baking, as well as pot holders. She used her Cricut Joy to add a saying to them. Most were as pictured, but she did special ones for the principal and his primary teacher. 

Isn't it adorable? She said she underestimated how much time it would take to complete these so if she does something similar next year, she'll start the process earlier.

Here's a funny story (and totally unrelated) for you. On Monday, I puttered around the house, not doing a very much as it was my son's earned day off. I finished the ornaments, watched some television, worked on a jigsaw puzzle, and read. About 4 p.m. the front door opened, and in walked C. To say the least I was surprised, and asked where he'd been? He said work, didn't you notice my car was gone? No, no I hadn't, even though I had been outside a couple of times to take garbage out and to grab the mail. We both got a laugh out of me trying to be quiet when he wasn't even here. In case you are wondering, I tend to keep it quiet until lunchtime, so I was a little annoyed thinking he could possibly still be sleeping!!

I made the mistake of going to Costco on Tuesday assuming, wrongly, that it would be quiet at noon on a weekday. The place was packed with people picking up groceries and last minute gift shopping. All I went for was AAA batteries, but ended up picking up a few groceries myself. Is that store ever not busy? 

Wednesday was our last Stitch and Chat for 2023. I wore my Christmas naughty or nice socks and my new elf hat. It's a snug fit, so I may end up giving it to Eli.

In addition, I took a small plate of the Peppermint and white chocolate blondies. The scale has told me that I've been eating far too much of it. :)

There were 4 of us there; Io, S, M, and myself. M has recently joined the group. She's very friendly and loves to knit. Although I'm not certain I'll be back in time, we did decide we'd meet next week, if enough people were available. Io isn't sure she will be as she doesn't know how long her family will be here for Christmas. I suspect Sheila will be the one to text the rest of us.

The Mahjong group met on Thursday as well. I'm not getting any better at this game - it seems there is always another rule I don't know. There will be a new card coming out for 2024 too with more hands to learn. Thankfully the group is willing to put up with a newbie. I played about 90 minutes and by then my brain hurt so I left a bit early. However, I do enjoy the game, and the company so I'll be back after New Years.

On Friday, I was busy preparing for my trip to my daughter's. Her friend M, had dropped off two large bags of clothing that her youngest son had grown out of. I also had some grocery items I'd picked up in the States and here over the past few weeks. Since I'm planning to be there for about 5 days, I packed a bag of clothing, personal items, phone charger, a bag of projects (knitting and crocheting), the book I need to read for book club, my camera, and of course, the gifts. Whatever wouldn't freeze overnight, or I didn't need immediately, was packed into the car. 

My brother dropped by for a short visit and to exchange Christmas gifts. I realized, after he left, I'd forgotten a gift under the tree AND the tin of baking in the freezer. I knew he'd be in the city for a few hours yet so sent a text suggesting he could swing by and pick them up, or I'd meet him somewhere to drop it off. I'm pretty sure it was the baking that made him respond quickly. :) He returned an hour or so later, and we chatted for a few minutes before he headed out again. I think he called less than 10 minutes later to tell me he was eating the cookies already! I hope he left some for his family.

I plan on getting away from the city by about 8:30 this morning. It will be light enough but ahead of the sunrise, as I'm driving directly east for the first 15-20 minutes and I hate driving into the sun. Once I get to the secondary highway, I'll change direction. It took about 90 minutes from door to door from the old house. I suspect it will be a little longer from our new place. There will likely be a post on Tuesday, with photos of all the fun to that point.

Merry Christmas everyone! Enjoy your day however you choose to spend it.

Friday 22 December 2023

Saturday 16 December 2023

A good week: Friends, fun, and final preparations

It truly is looking as if we'll be having a brown Christmas this year. This week's weather has been well above normal temperatures for this time of the year, and what little snow fell a week ago is pretty much gone. We might see a few flurries but no major accumulation is expected before Christmas. I'll take it, as I'm driving out to my daughter's next weekend and would prefer to have clear highways for the drive, and temperatures warm enough that the car doesn't need to be plugged in overnight. 

My preparations for Christmas are so close to complete, I can see the finish line. Baking is complete: this week I made another batch of sugar and spice cookies, a pan of white chocolate peppermint blondies, and the last batch of shortbread. The containers to give away were full and tucked away in the freezer. I picked up the gift cards for my niece and nephew, finished their tree ornaments and tucked them in gift bags. I'm still working on the ornaments for my brother and SIL.

No stitch and chat this week, as my friend K was available for a visit. She's a busy gal, so I appreciated her taking the time to come by the house. She is the recipient of the penguin and went home with it, a container of baking, and a book to read and pass on. We worked together for many years, have travelled together, and always have lots to talk about! In fact, there was some discussion of a trip in 2025. We do like to start the planning early.

On Thursday, I spent the morning doing laundry and some housecleaning, before heading to the community center for Mahjong. I've been playing the free on-line games, four a day, for the last week and I actually won a game that morning! I got lucky and had a good hand to start out with - that doesn't happen often, and I've learned that one must switch strategy and I really, really to learn to recognize the tiles better than I do. Too often, I end up with a dead hand - basically a hand that doesn't conform to the hands that are allowed.

I did win a hand that afternoon too, but with much help from A. She was playing too but would scoot over to add words of wisdom. Occasionally she discarded a tile from her board knowing I needed it. I appreciated the hand out. :) Next week I'm going to go it alone, but with the caveat that I can ask for help if I feel I need it. A told us today she has been playing since 1994 another woman, B started in 2001. I'm definitely learning from some experienced players.

D received the diagnosis for Eli that afternoon, and it is confirmed our boy is autistic (in addition to his previous diagnosis of ADHD). He has lower support needs in many areas, but will require assistance in certain aspects. The diagnosis provides opportunities for additional funding for therapies or certain equipment that will be helpful in teaching Eli coping skills or other ways to learn as he goes through school. I have no doubt that with the needed supports, he'll be successful as he's a pretty smart kid and is, even at this young age, unafraid to advocate for himself.

She took him to see Santa a week or so ago. He told his mom that this wasn't the real Santa, because the real one is too busy, this guy is just a helper.

Friday was a quiet day though I did run out for a few groceries.  The latest Grand Slam of curling event is being televised, but only the last two days of the regular draws, and then the playoffs. It's a bit disappointing as too often it's pretty clear who will make it into the playoffs by the final draws. However, I won't complain too loudly - at least I have curling to watch and they won't listen to me anyway.

Today means more curling, some reading, and maybe some crocheting. I've lost my crocheting energy, even though I'm so close to finishing the last two small projects. It's taken a bit of toll on my wrists and hands so I've been taking some time off to rest. I do have a couple of days next week to get at 'er.  My brother will likely be over for a visit next week for our Christmas exchange. 

Have a wonderful week ahead everyone! 

Saturday 9 December 2023

Checking my list

The tree was decorated and gifts wrapped/bagged early one morning last weekend. My son likes to sleep in (I think I've mentioned that a time or two), so I puttered around downstairs doing things I figured wouldn't disrupt his rest. This year, with a good portion of the tree back against the wall, I only decorated three sides - takes less time! I couldn't find my hangers for those ornaments without strings, so a number of the ornaments are merely "stuffed" into the branches. The box with the hangers are in a tub in the garage and I'm too lazy to go looking for them. Since Saku rarely bothers the tree and the ornaments are the unbreakable kind, I'm not worried about losing any.

I haven't yet picked up the gift cards for DeNiece and DeNephew, but the card boxes are tucked under the tree. I'd best not forget! Bags are my friend and I re-use several of them each year by either using it for the same person, or removing the sticker and adding a new one. 

This week I got more Christmas baking done, and there is a full container for my friends K&J in the freezer and a partially filled one for my brother R and his family. I need to bake the third batch of shortbread and a second batch of sugar and spice cookies for their tin, along with one more Christmas'y cake or cookie. I like bars because they take less time and effort, but cookies are always good too.

I did my weekly grocery shop on Wednesday morning. I have really got to get back to every 10 days as I spend less, but there were a few sale items I wanted to pick up for Christmas. That afternoon, I went to stitch and chat, visiting with S as no one else made it this week. We did have company though, as a young man sat in the room with his laptop and ear buds. 

Thursday was my first foray into the world of Mahjongg at the nearby community center. There is a fairly large group of women who play, but this day there were only six including me. They play four people to a hand, and one woman is an instructor of sorts. She plays when there is a seat as they rotate, but seemed to generally be helping others. After I watched a game, she took me to a separate table and explained some of the need to know terminology, as well as the rules of the game. But not all of the rules, because there are far too many to learn at once. When the second hand was complete, she sat with me and I played my first hand with lots of assistance. We played two more hands, and surprisingly I won the second hand I played. Did she ask the others to throw it to me? I don't think so but I'm sure it was her instructions that made the difference. Anyway it was fun (and challenging) and I'll be going back next week. 

At home, I've been working on several projects: crocheted ornaments, a knitted elf hat, and a cross stitch stocking pattern. I couldn't locate my safety eyes in my craft boxes in the garage so had to wait until a new set arrived from Amazon. I don't know why our local Michaels doesn't carry them, even on-line. I finished up on of the Christmas tree ornaments and I'm not entirely happy with it. The elf hat is partially finished, I have a lot of ends to sew in and a pom pom to make to complete it.

I spent most of the day on Friday doing housework, baking buns, watching curling and knitting. The biggest chore was vacuuming the basement and cleaning up the equipment area. We had the water softener removed this week and the area where it sat was filthy with dust and salt. I should have washed the floor but as I finishing I heard a couple of large trucks out front. There was a letter in the mailbox the other day from a pumping company, notifying us they would be cleaning out the sewer lines this week. I scrambled around the house closing sink drains, wrapping the toilet bowls in old towels, closing shower stall doors, and covering the main drain in the basement. According to the letter, the force of the water could come up in the house but thankfully that did not happen. I did, however, listen to the roar of the equipment for almost two hours. 

Today will be a mostly quiet day. There's more curling, more crafts, a jigsaw to work on, and maybe a run out to the hair salon to get my mop cut. 

I'll leave you with a photo of a hare I spotted across the road a few days ago. I'm glad to see we have some wildlife in the area, though hope it stays on this side as we're not far off the highway.

Have a great week ahead, everyone!

Saturday 2 December 2023

Christmas, curling, and cold

Being a bit of a number nerd, I did the calculation on items that I can purchase here in Canada as compared to the US prices (after conversion to Cdn dollars). Overall I saved nearly 40% on those purchases. Some items were definitely worth it - like the Skechers slip-ons and Christmas pj's for Eli. Others, not so much - I could have picked up the sweatpants for Eli's for (slightly) less here in Regina since they were on sale here too.

I also picked up some items that we just don't have here - Dot's Pretzels (not as good as I was assured they'd be), Dolly Parton cake mixes, and specialty flavours of Oreos. The amount I saved in Canadian dollars offset almost half the cost of the trip. Had I stayed home, I might have saved money, but I wouldn't have completed my shopping in such a short period of time and probably run all over town looking for the "perfect" gift. On this trip, I had to make my decisions quickly - do dithering allowed.

The rest of the week has been fairly quiet. I did a little grocery shopping on Tuesday in order to pick up some needed items and a few sale items. The furnace guy dropped by later that day to check out the furnace as I've been hearing a whine occasionally when it starts up. Yes, we had the home inspector check it, but he didn't mention the whine and the furnace is 22 years old. Of course it didn't whine when he was here, though he knew that it would like be the inducer motor. He did a couple of tests and everything is working well though did say when it starts getting very loud, we'll want to replace it. The part is about $1000, but a new furnace is about $6K so I'll ensure my son knows to keep an ear out.

I also finished off the six cocoa cups for teacher's gifts for Eli. (Photo of the two was posted on Wednesday). I've started a couple of small ornaments for my nephew and niece to go along with their gift cards. Last year I gave them little snowman ornaments and they couldn't stop talking about them. Perhaps this can become a annual tradition and when they are on their own, they'll have a start of decorations for their trees.

Wednesday was stitch and chat. I puttered around the house in the morning, doing a bit of laundry, dishes, reading blogs, and working on the Christmas letter. My travel agent called before lunch and we chatted about her trip to Portugal, my bus tour, and my upcoming March 2024 cruise. Final payment is due next week, so we took care of that. She's keeping an eye out for airfare for my August 2024 cruise as well though prices at the moment are quite high. I'm hoping for a price drop though that's probably wishful thinking.

On Thursday I had planned to visit the nearby community center to meet some local women and try to learn Mahjong. However, I woke with a cough and a drippy nose. I decided that I'd best stay home and after some Buckley's and a sinus and cold Tylenol, I felt well enough to get some more cleaning done, got my Christmas cards written and ready for the mail, as well as some crocheting. I cannot locate my safety eyes in my craft room boxes, so ordered more as I'll need them to finish off the ornaments. In the afternoon I discovered another curling event on You-tube. It was only the second draw, so I should be able to amuse myself for the rest of the week.

I was feeling quite a bit better on Friday morning, so I masked up and went to the mall to mail my Christmas cards and a parcel for D & Eli. A stop at Safeway was on the agenda too, where I picked up some ingredients for Christmas baking. At home between curling games, I mixed up a pan of gingerbread cake. I also finished Chilly, the penguin I started making for a friend back in October (before the packing began in earnest). He's a little crooked and not perfect but I think he turned out pretty cute.

My son is learning all about the trials of home ownership. On Friday, the light in the main bathroom started to fail. It's an enclosed LED vanity light fixture with no way to replace the lights, thus a new fixture is needed. I checked on-line at our local outlets and none had the appropriate size in stock, except one and the reviews for it were abysmal. I ended up ordering from Amazon, so he'll have to remember to take his cellphone to the bathroom for light in the morning, as it won't be in until December 9th (at the earliest). I'll convince my brother to help us install it. I'd done an install on a light in the old house a few years and it worked fine but this one is quite a big bigger and heavier.

Today, getting my little tree decorated, gifts wrapped, and more crocheting is on the agenda. And, of course, more curling to watch.

Oh, and the best thing to happen this week is: I found my tea canister. I have absolutely no idea why I packed it as I did. The darn thing was tucked in among toilet paper rolls in the original product packaging. I mean, it was a safe place for it, but I don't remember putting it there and I never would have thought to look for it, I just happened upon it when I was getting more paper for the loo.

Have a wonderful week ahead everyone!

Monday 27 November 2023

Great great-away!

The bus trip to Minot was a success; I finished my Christmas shopping, spoiled myself a little, found some real bargains, spent some time relaxing in my hotel room, and met a wonderful group of women. Apparently this tour has been happening for many years and some of the participants have been on multiple trips. However, there is no guarantee it will happen again next year, as the bus company has recently been bought out and the new ownership may decide to cancel it. There were originally around 38 tentative bookings but by the time we left, we were down to 23 (plus hostess and driver) on a 54 passenger bus. I'm glad they decided not to cancel.

We left Regina on a very cold Thursday morning (-18C/0F) at about 9 a.m. There were several women on the bus who had boarded in Moose Jaw, and I think were about 12 of us from Regina. We had one more stop to pick up a woman in Weyburn before we headed to Estevan in time for lunch. We were expected to arrive there about 11:30 but actually reached the city a good 30 minutes early. After a quick lunch at Taco Time or Subway, we hit the road again for the border crossing. There was a short stop on the Canadian side at the duty free.

At the crossing, the bus was directed to a separate area, and an agent boarded the bus to collect our passports. I don't think we were sitting more than 15 minutes before he returned and gave the passports to Diane, our hostess. She handed them out and we were on our way. To pass some time, we played a game of "Survivor" at a cost of $5 USD. We selected one card from each of decks of blue and red playing cards, which we tore in half. One half went into a bucket and we held the other cards. As cards were drawn, the other half was handed in and the last card to be drawn would win the pot. I lost my first card very early and figured I had no chance, but I was still holding on when there were only four cards left. The gal in front of me also had a card, and said "I'll make you a deal, if we're the last two cards, I'll split the pot with you." I agreed, and yes, we were the last two cards. However, she would have won the entire pot had she not made the deal with me. In any event we both had $50 additional cash to spend.

We arrived at the hotel about 3:30 p.m. and were greeted by the staff with bottles of water, our room keys, and information about the hotel and its amenities. After unloading our luggage and at little time at our rooms, we headed back to the bus for a short drive to a truck stop diner for dinner. We were told basically everything in the city was closed and it certainly appeared that way on our drive. We had what my kids call the senior dinner, eating by 5 p.m. The food was fine, the company much better. I was ready for an early night and quite happy to be back at the hotel and settled by shortly after 6 p.m.

I DID NOT get up early the following morning to go shopping at the mall. Others did, however, and several were in line-up at the J.C. Penney doors at 4:45 a.m.! I slept in until 7:15, took my time before heading down for breakfast, and joined several others on the bus for the drive to Hobby Lobby and Kohl's. We were given three hours! for this jaunt - mostly due to the thought there would be long line-ups. There weren't and I was back on the bus after an hour. Hobby Lobby's sale items were primarily Christmas and leftover from the fall/Thanksgiving. No yarn on sale though I did find a item for D's Christmas gift. At Kohl's I found some towels and a blanket for Eli, but nothing else sparked my interest. Thankfully, I had my Sudoku book of puzzles to amuse me while I waited for the others.

In the afternoon I shopped and ate at the mall. I had hoped to find a specific book at Barnes and Noble for my brother, but they had none in stock nor in their warehouse. Carter's, Ross Dress for Less, and Target were provided some clothing for Eli and me. Later in the day, we made a trip over to Walmart, where I purchased some grocery items, some yarn (just 2 skeins), a duffle bag (to pack things in) and a couple of gift items. 

Saturday was a very successful day - some relaxing in the morning, and shopping in the afternoon. The bus was going back to Hobby Lobby and Kohl's so I stayed behind, walked over to T. J. Maxx where I found more items for Eli and me. Back at the room, I did some crocheting. I cannot locate the amigurumi cocoa mugs I made on last year's cruise, so I found another pattern that I actually like better, and worked on those. I used some yarn I'd brought with me, as well as the yarn I bought at Walmart. I also spent some time on my cross stitch project.

D messaged me to say that the local store was out of brown sugar, so after lunch at the mall, I wandered down to Target and found a couple of bags of brown sugar for her. I'll mail them to her later this week, when I finish the cocoa mugs as those are meant to be gifts for Eli's teachers, teacher aides, and the principal.

Our trip to Menard's that afternoon was amazing - what a store! I thought of it as a hardware/lumber store, but it is much more. They have a grocery section, and at this time of year a huge section for Christmas. I was able to finish off my list of gifts, with a few extras to boot. Who wouldn't want a cordless screwdriver for $4.99? Well, I don't know if they do or not, but both my kids are getting one. 

Later in the evening, we had a another jaunt, this time to Joann Fabrics. I was looking for permanent vinyl for D's Cricuit, but though the vinyl was on sale, the package she wanted was out of stock. I did look at the yarn, and fondled a few of the pound balls, but left them on the shelf. They were definitely a good price, even with the conversion rate but I reminded myself I have a closet full here that needs to be used. Maybe next year.

Speaking of pricing, I did the math on the sale prices and found I saved about 33% overall according to my receipts. I haven't done the calculation of a comparison of USD to CDN as yet, primarily because several of the grocery items I purchased are only available in the U.S. That included Dolly Parton cake mixes, special flavours of Oreo's, and Dot's Pretzels. My best deal was a pair of slip-on Skechers for $32 ($45 C), which is a 40% savings over the cost the same pair here. 

Now, I agree, that I probably didn't save a whole lot when one considers the cost of the trip itself. However, I could not have booked a hotel room for three nights and driven there and back for the price I paid for the tour. It was worth the cost if only for some time away especially after the stress of this move. I stayed well within my spending budget and enjoyed the company of my fellow shoppers as well.

We were all loaded and on the bus by 9 a.m. on Sunday, with a short stop at the U.S. duty free before the border. There the bus was directed to a building where we all off-loaded with our passports. Two agents met us, one scanning our passport while the other reviewed our declaration cards. As long as the amount was $1000 or less (the limit is generally $800) we were through the line quickly. We had to wait until they finished with everyone and did a quick check of the interior of the bus before we were permitted to re-board. Two of our passengers were sent to another building to pay the duty on their over-limit purchases. See the photo below...and they had two more large suitcases in addition! After a quick stop in Estevan for lunch, we dropped off the passenger in Weyburn, and were in Regina by 3 p.m. 

I did learn, I need to take a large suitcase with me, as I had to buy a duffle bag and still had two more bags to carry besides my craft bag, my purse, and my small bag for clothing. It was good to get home, unpacked, and I even managed to get my laundry done before bedtime. All in all, a very good weekend!

Thursday 23 November 2023

And she's off

I'm posting early this week, as I'm heading out this morning on my short break, a bus trip to Minot for the weekend. I'll be back late Sunday evening, assuming the weather and roads are good, so there will likely be an update on Monday.

It was a busy few days this week, with a visit from my daughter and grandson on Tuesday overnight. They came into the city in the morning for his autism screening at the university. Results are expected by mid-week next week. Eli cooperated very well, and what was thought might take four hours was completed in just over 2 1/2 hours. D had found something called a wiggle seat for him - it's like a cushion but has raised bumps on it. The sensory boost it gives him as he sits helps to keep him still. I saw it in action that evening when we were having dinner.

Before they arrived, I had the fridge repair man out to take a look at the freezer fan. It does need to be replaced, however the part won't be in for two to six weeks. He checked on-line while he was there and there isn't a single fan available in the country! Fingers crossed he's correct, and the part will become available soon, as replacing it will be far less expensive than buying a brand new fridge.

Eli had fun exploring the new house and later when Uncle C arrived home, he spent some time gathering rocks in the back yard for me. (I didn't ask, he thought it was a good idea.) This is the area where I plan to put in micro-clover in much of it, and C wants to put in gravel in part of it for a fire pit. After a short visit with my brother, Eli and C went to basement to play with nerf guns; the war continued after dinner too. Bedtime was a bit chaotic but he and his mother finally settled in about 8 p.m. They used my bed, while I slept on the couch.

Eli told me he was taking a nap in the cupboard. Silly kid!

They got away the next morning about 8 a.m. as D wanted to make a stop at the Dollarama on her way out of the city. After a bit of shopping, they stopped at a cafe in a nearby bedroom community to visit with a friend and her fairly new baby (also named Eli). I had a message about 10, that they were on the road home.

Once I knew they were settled back at home, I headed out to the bank to pick up some USD for my trip, then onto to Stitch and Chat. I've started on a new project, a counted cross stitch Christmas stocking. There is no possibility I'll have it finished in time this year, so the goal is to finish it by December 2024. There were the three regulars today, myself, S and I, and a new lady who came for the first time, M. She explained her husband is going through cancer treatments and she needs a little time away from everything. Later she said she enjoyed herself and would be back next week. 

We head out this morning about 9 a.m., with an anticipated arrival in Minot around 4:30 p.m., with a stop in Estevan for lunch. The group will be getting together for dinner the first evening.  Then the shopping begins in earnest tomorrow. I've been researching possible gifts and have a good idea where I'll find them. 

Have a good weekend everyone!

Saturday 18 November 2023

Burning a hole in my pocket

Life slowed down somewhat this week. Most everything I want or need has been unpacked - though I still can't find my tea canister. No worries, I still have boxes of tea so I'm not going without. 

My son had Monday off as a statutory holiday for Remembrance Day, and because his bi-weekly earned day off is usually Monday, he had Tuesday off as well. That meant four days off for him, and quiet mornings for me - since I spoil him and let him sleep late. Monday, though he had to be up by 10:30 as my brother's friend, P was stopping by to check the garage door for us. The fellow who had leased the garage from the owners had mentioned it was tricky - tap three times to open it and twice to close it. That didn't work for me nor my son. After he had retired, P got into refurbishing garage door openers as well as installation. In fact, back in 2010 he replaced the old garage door opener at the previous property I'd owned. 

The one sensor wasn't working properly, but he got that going in short order, then did a few adjustments to the machine. That seemed to make things worse, so he took it apart and realized he had made the turn to the opposite direction he intended. About 20 minutes and $40 later, the door is functioning as it should. P mentioned the opener is very old, but a top of the line brand. He figures it should last the winter at least, and agreed he'd be back in the spring to replace it, if we chose to do so.  Since he's closed down his business, it's nice to know he'd do that for us. I did tell him, my brother R owed him a coffee. :)  

Oh, before I forget, Wednesday's photo is courtesy of R. He was out hunting elk but the wily creatures kept approaching him from the wrong direction or after hunting hours ended due to the sun setting. While he'd like to get his elk, he truly enjoys being out in the blind enjoying the sounds and sights of the natural world around him. I'm too soft hearted to like the idea of hunting, but I do appreciate the photographs.

Wednesday, C was back to work, and I went shopping! Nothing really exciting, some groceries and a few household items. I did make a stop by the thrift stores too finding a lamp at Value Village, a sheet and a pair of pajamas at Salvation Army. When I was moving the furniture in the living room, I manage to break one of my lamps. Eventually, I'll replace the pair in the living room, but the one I bought will be used in the basement. It had no shade, but I was able to use the one from the broken lamp. 

I also stopped in at my former esthetician's shop to purchase mascara for D. I missed L, as she wasn't working in the morning but I was able to make the purchase. One little boy got into his mother's make-up last week and wasted a whole lot of mascara. She had given him permission to play with the eyeshadow but neglected to expressly tell him not to use the mascara. Apparently he drew pictures on the tub with it. (Are you laughing...I was.)

Later, I met S at Stitch and Chat. I'd actually got some knitting done this weekend and was close to finishing the toque I've been working on. I didn't get it done that afternoon but have finished it since. We meet at the library, so I dropped off the book club novel, "Lethal White" by Robert Galbraith. I hadn't realized the author was the nom de plume of J. K. Rowling, or I likely wouldn't have read the book. She's made some controversial comments about the transgender community, and when challenged about those remarks she doubled down on her comments. In any event, I read the book and wasn't impressed. BTW, I've never read the Harry Potter books and if this novel was a sample of her writing, I won't be reading any more in the future.

I won't be attending next week's book club as D and Eli will be in town. He has an appointment for autism testing with a psychologist and a student intern. The appointment is over a four hour period, and I sure hope they give him a number of breaks. I'm expecting the two of them to arrive at the house mid-afternoon and they will overnight here before heading home in the morning.

More shopping was accomplished on Thursday as well, but not necessarily as I had planned. I want a new laptop as the one I currently use has a very limited memory. I do have an external hard drive but find it annoying to have to retrieve photos and documents. Yes, I know there is a cloud thingy too and some of the photos are saved there - at least the ones since I purchased this laptop, BUT I have no idea how to retrieve those items from the cloud. I didn't get a password or any kind of program to access, it saves the photos automatically but I also save to the computer and back-up the folders to my external hard drive. My concern is: what happens to the stuff in the cloud if this computer were to crash? Some things are just too important to me to lose access.

I went to the Staples store near my house and had a laptop selected, but they had none in stock. According to the tech, there was one in stock in the store on the other side of the city. Off I trundled to buy it there...except that didn't happen. The laptop on the shelf was not exactly the same as the one at the north store; it had half the memory/storage of the one I wanted, yet it was listed at the same price. I tried to get some assistance, even phoning the store directly after I'd ask a nearby stock clerk to call someone. The phone was never answered, and the automated voice told me to call back later. I waited a few more minutes, then walked out of the store. Back at home I ordered it online for delivery next week.

Since it's been a very spendy week, it was time to stay home on Friday. I did a few chores and tackled some heavy duty cleaning. D has my rug cleaner so I used the small green machine on the worst of the carpet in the basement. Upstairs I cleaned the louvers in the pantry and linen closet doors, washed the walls in the back landing and scrubbed doors. I'm slowly making my way around the house. Once the cleaning is complete, there will be some minor repairs and painting needed, most of which I can do over time.

Today, I've got nothing on the schedule. There are several curling events going on, I may find something streaming to watch. I'll likely do some knitting, to finish off the toque I've been working on for several weeks, and then turn my attention to another UFO, a sweater I started in the spring and barely started. It is Grey Cup weekend (Canadian football championship) but I won't be watching as I don't have access to the game. I've set up the Christmas tree and started a jigsaw puzzle. As I said to my daughter, I'm just puttering. A quiet weekend sounds good to next week will be busy.

Have a great week ahead everyone!

Saturday 11 November 2023

A long time coming

Well, we made the move from one house to the other successfully. I am forever grateful that the move was complete before the snow that arrived with a vengeance on Tuesday morning. The movers arrived on Monday by 8:45 a.m. and had dropped everything at the new house shortly after 12. They were fast and efficient and having the boxes in the garage was a good thing. We had them drop the boxes and bins in the new garage, though my organization didn't work quite as well on this end. The charge wasn't much more than I paid 13 years ago, when the three of us (D, C and I) moved into that house. Of course, there was quite a bit less now than then. But either way I was happy. M

We did some unpacking (mostly items from our vehicles and a few necessary boxes with dishes/glassware, towels, and bedding) and C went off later in the afternoon to pick-up the mattresses and bed frames. Of course, there had to be another hiccup with the Brick. Though he had the invoice, his last name is the same as mine, AND he had his identification with him, the fourteen year olds who rule the warehouse initially argued with him as I wasn't there. He had borrowed a friend's truck - she came back with him, and we had dinner together and visited for about an hour or so. We didn't get the bed frames put together so the mattresses were simply put into their respective bedrooms and made up. By 9 p.m. I was done and had crawled into bed.

Awake at 3:30 a.m., I stayed in bed until nearly 6 before heading upstairs. Poor C heard all the noises through the night (fridge, furnace, etc.) while I slept through it all. Then he heard me as I moved around upstairs. I may have to offer him my ear plugs. :)

By 7a.m. Tuesday,I was on my way over to the old house. I packed up the food from the fridge and freezer, and loaded it with the packaged food items that hadn't been moved the day before. I'd thoroughly cleaned the fridge a week or so ago, so it didn't take much to ensure it was cleaned. For some reason, I didn't think to eat before I left here, so was happy to find a piece of pizza in the fridge and a banana on the counter. It made a good breakfast!

I wandered around the house and made sure nothing was left behind. There was a box left in the garage with small propane bottles - I'm assuming the movers wouldn't/couldn't move those- a night light, a mat, a some cleaning supplies and my carbon monoxide detector. Just after I finished packing the car, the cleaners arrived. We did a walk through and while they got to work indoors, I swept up debris in the garage.

By this time, the snow was coming down in earnest! My realtor arrived around 10 to do a quick walk through and mentioned that traffic was moving slowly. Not long after he left that the garbage haulers arrived. and filled their trailer. My work there was done, so I found a spot to sit out of the way until the cleaners finished up about 12:15. They did a great job and I hope that having the house cleaned will make up for the fact that the driveway didn't get cleared! We got close to 5 inches in just a few hours.

The route that I take from the east side of the city to our new neighbourhood has a train crossing. We've been stopped a couple of times since we first saw the house. It happened again on Tuesday. I groaned when I saw the train actually stopped on the was a wait of over 10 minutes before it started moving again. 

Wednesday started early again at 3:30, when the noise from the water softener woke me. I caught up on some news, read blogs, and then managed to doze off until just after 6 a.m. I heard C moving around upstairs. I'd parked behind him on the single driveway so I got dressed. YUCK, more snow on the driveway! I moved my car out in front and he took off for work while I cleared the couple of inches that had fallen over night.

Then I tackled the pile of boxes in the garage. I took four boxes at a time into the house and made four or five trips in total. In addition, I organized the boxes that will remain in storage in the garage. The kitchen and bathroom boxes have pretty much been emptied and everything in its new place. I may not remember where I put things for awhile though!

The fellow who leased the garage from the old owner, came by to remove a few items left in the garage. I think he'd hoped we'd keep them, but they were heavy metal tables, and old desk, chair, and a filing cabinet. Nothing we need nor want. (As a result I wasn't able to get to Stitch and Chat that afternoon.)

Meanwhile I received an email from the lawyer indicating the sale was complete and the cheque would be deposited to my bank account that afternoon. When I had a chance to check it at 3, the money was there. BUT, the bank had put a 7 day hold on a lawyer's trust cheque, or at least 90% of it. I was able to move some of the funds over to pay off the line of credit, and to put a bit in savings, but the balance was sitting there looking pretty but inaccessible.

I had an appointment downtown on Thursday so made a stop at the bank branch to discuss this with someone there. At first, there didn't seem to be anything they could/would do, but when I explained I had a small loan (from the renovations) to pay off, and I would be asking them to pay the interest for the extra week, they acquiesced to my request to release more of the funds. I walked over to the other institution to drop off a cheque, then headed to my appointment. While I couldn't make the deposits that day, arrangements have been made to move the funds when they are released next week. 

From the appointment, I went to do a bit of grocery shopping on this end of the city. I've never lived in this area so it was a bit of treasure hunt walking around the stores. The rest of the day was spent relaxing at home. No unpacking...I was still tired from the day before.

Friday I tackled more unpacking, though most of it stayed in it's boxes in the store room downstairs. These include extra glassware, some small appliances, and extra bedding. There simply isn't enough room in the kitchen for anything else, and to be honest, most of it isn't really needed. I vacuumed the basement, used the dry mop on the walls to get rid of cat hair and cobwebs, and washed the bathroom floor and the back door landing. In the afternoon I did a quick run to Walmart to get a new rug for the landing - the old one shredded when I pulled it up to wash the flooring. It was stuck down...I'm wondering how long it has been since that floor was cleaned! (I could say that about much of the house, to be honest). 

On a happier note, curling is being broadcast this week (Thurs-Sun) so I've been able to watch several games, with more to go. It's been nice to take a break, from unpacking and cleaning, to curl up on the couch with Saku, and watch the draws. There will be more of that today, but we have some things to get done today too. The bed frames need to be assembled, the rest of the boxes of clothing and bedding need to be brought indoors, and I want to get the living room vacuumed and floor washed. I haven't been able to do that just yet. Those boxes contain the unassembled bed frames. Far too heavy for me to lift!

I'll be taking a moment this morning too, to remember those who fought for our countries in the world wars to allow us to live in peace. In particular, I am thinking of my uncles Wilf and Bob, who went overseas in WWII. Neither came home unscathed, though they did make it back. 

Have a great week ahead everyone!

Saturday 4 November 2023

Carry and Tote

Wednesday's photos were a trip down memory lane for me, from my visit to Victoria in October 2009, to visit my godmother Gladys. I believe the houseboat photo was take on our walk along the seawall, and I know the other photos were taken at Butchart Gardens. Another story about Gladys, her full name was Cecilia Gladys and when she lived in Victoria, she used Cecilia as her name. Of course, I was expected to call her that too - it wasn't easy. As for the gardens, they were created at the direction of Jennie Butchart, in a former limestone quarry. The development began in 1912 and continues to this day. According to their website, the gardens are spread over 55 acres, employs 50 fulltime gardeners, and is open year-round. It is definitely a place to visit in Victoria.

As Patsy would say, the jello jiggled for me on Monday. The original plan was to start moving boxes from the kitchen/spare bedroom to the garage. However, as the temperature was expected to drop overnight Monday to -18C (0F), I didn't want to leave the car out on the driveway if I didn't have to. Warmer temps were in the forecast with highs near freezing and lows around -5C (23F). In addition, it would have been colder to be working in the garage and while there are heaters, they are electric and expensive to run.

So instead, I did more packing and made lists...lots of lists. What cupboards still need to be emptied, and which box the stuff is to go in (kitchen and bathroom), what boxes/bags and other items are to be sent to the house in my son's car, and what will go in mine. 

Halloween was both busy and fun. It warmed up quite a bit by mid-morning, so I pulled the car out of the garage and started moving boxes. The spare bedroom was cleared out and a good portion of the kitchen boxes were moved, as well as the boxes/bins from the sunroom. I also got the rugs from the sunroom rolled up, taped up and moved to the garage. This all took several hours, with breaks including lunch in between. It's tiring moving boxes.

The first child arrived at the door about 5:30, and after a bit of lull, they began appearing in earnest from about 5:45 to 6:30. It quieted down again before the hordes started arriving again just before 7. I ran out of potato chips (40 bags) and was left with a couple dozen small chocolate bars by 7:30. There were some fun and interesting costumes including one that looked like a cross between a one eyed fly and a demon, as well as a wee elephant, and several princesses and super heroes. I asked about the fly/demon costume and was told by the wearer that they are creating a cartoon so the creature was of their own invention. 

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't add a photo of our very own astronaut. He had a wonderful day at school where they were able to wear their costumes throughout the day, and then into the early evening trick or treating with his mom. She said the wind had died down, and the -2C temperature was perfect for walking. I'm sure they both slept well that night.

Wednesday saw me carrying more boxes and bins from the basement to the garage, doing laundry, and running a few errands before meeting S at Stitch and Chat. There was a whole lot more chatting than stitching. In the morning, I met with my insurance agent to arrange the cancellation of the house insurance. It amused me that this has to be done in-person, while starting a new policy or making changes to an existing one can be done on-line or by e-mail. 

I finally got a sense that my son is getting excited about the move on Thursday morning. His first words to me were, "four more sleeps." I replied, I thought I was the only one counting. :) It was a wee bit cooler -5C (23F) that morning so I wasted watched some curling before heading down to the basement. My goal was to get the rest of the boxes/bins into the garage. That was accomplished in relatively short order between curling games. There are just a few pieces of furniture left in the basement for the movers. 

I was also able to contact the garbage haulers. I'd used their services back in 2019, when the house did not sell, and hoped they would still be in service. They are, and have been scheduled to make the pick-up on Tuesday at 10. I'm expecting the cleaners at 8:30 (now changed to 12:30 due to the long weekend) and this will give me time to check for any items left behind and to sweep out the garage. 

The curling continued through Thursday afternoon and early evening, and again on Friday. In between draws, I moved some boxes* that were on the shelves in the garage to the pile to be moved, and then did some housecleaning. With my trips back and forth to the garage with the boxes, I've been bringing in leaves and debris that has been blown in or come in on the tires of the cars. (I did put down plastic on the floor of the garage before I started piling the boxes.)

Today I'll finish packing a few more boxes and moving them to the garage. The last ones with the remaining dishes, glassware, and cutlerly will go out sometime Sunday evening. There is no more cooking happening for the weekend, we'll eat any leftovers from earlier in the week, sandwiches, or take-out pizza.

*The boxes are kitchen items that C moved home from his two years in Lethbridge in 2008. The boxes haven't been opened since. It will be interesting to see what they hold and if he wants to keep any of it in his new home.

Have a great weekend everyone!