Friday, December 13, 2019

#AMonthofFaves The Cook It, Bake It, Drink It or Eat It Edition

Today on #AMonthofFaves, the blog party hosted by Kim and Tanya at GirlXOXO (link here) and T of Traveling With T (link here), we are looking at all the yummy things. Yay! Below are the foods which defined 2019 for our family.

Thanks to a challenge from my blog friend, Emily, I started baking challah. I began in February and now I try to bake it about once a week. We eat one loaf for our Shabbat dinner on Friay night and, more often than not, Dave makes challah French toast with the second loaf for Saturday supper. YUM!!!
 

An Instagram friend, Erin, introduced me to the idea of apple nachos. You can find her simple recipe for them here. I highly recommend eating them with caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, and cinnamon. The beauty of these is you can make them however you want. Again, YUM!!!

I made up a recipe for a salad to use up all the beans we were getting in our CSA this summer. It has avocados and feta cheese in it as well. I ate it a lot for lunches this summer. You can see the "recipe" in the second paragraph of this post here.

Another favourite of mine this summer was grilled romaine lettuce with Caesar dressing. It sounds weird but it was soooo good. You just put a bit of olive oil on the lettuce, grill it for a couple of minutes, and then add Ceasar dressing. I can't wait until the baby romaine is ready next summer.

The kids got excited about making a few things this year. Sam's specialty was baking scones. He made me Earl Grey ones for Mother's Day and has a recipe for a pumpkin spice one. Both are delicious! He even baked all the scones for his cousins' graduation tea.
 

Not one to be left out, Rachel started taking a lot of responsibility whenever we have Pasta Bake. The link to the original recipe is no longer active so it's a good thing I have it memorized. Yikes! Since I'm vegetarian, we use veggie ground round, and there's no cooking involved ahead of time which is nice.

I discovered a really simple pasta dish that uses up lots of vegetables and which the kids love. I've made it a few times this fall using whatever veggies we have on hand. This particular rendition had carrots and bok choy! You can find the recipe (with another link to it) here.

This fall the kids have been loving taking cold steamed broccoli for their lunches so it feels like I can't talk about the tastes of 2019 without mentioning that. Sam has also been going through dill pickles by the jar so I want to remember that too! Three jars might last about a week and a half. It's nuts!!!

We also became involved in a Country of the Week pilot project and I added the idea of cooking something from that country each week. I wrote a whole post about new recipes we'd discovered and loved from that experiment. You can read that post and find links to the recipes here. One of our favourites is this Danish oven pancake pictured below.

And I would say that this is a pretty good sampling of some of the tastes of 2019 in our family. It's been a DELICIOUS year!!!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Waiting For The Phone To Ring...

Me at 7:30 yesterday morning -- very early.
  
So I've mentioned a few times that I was unemployed for most of the fall. I have also mentioned that I started work this week. So here is the whole story (mostly)...

There were rumblings that changes were afoot with my old job but those changes weren't confirmed until mid-July. And the rumblings started last November so there was a very long period of unknown. So last winter I started casually looking around for other job opportunities. I found one I was quite excited about but it was on "ongoing" posting so it just sat open in my web browser for months.

Once my job was finished at the end of August, I got my act together, submitted my resume for this "ongoing" posting, crossed my fingers (and toes), prayed, and waited... and waited... and waited. And waited until the end of September when I found out I had been offered an interview. Then I waited... and waited... and waited some more until I found out I had made it to the testing phase.

The day I took the test (basic office skills), I found out immediately that I had passed. This was in early November. Then I had to wait (and wait and wait) until earlier this week when I had training and orientation.

My job is basically like being a substitute teacher but for secretaries and (eventually) library clerks at schools throughout our area. I can work in any school in our school board from elementary to high school. Yikes. So I wait by the phone, I check the online postings, and I go where they send me.
Since I make "First Day of School" signs for my kids, 
they decided I needed a "First Day" sign too!
 
I finished my orientation and training on Tuesday at 4. I got home at 4:30 and by 4:40, I had received my first call to go out to a school for all day yesterday. I'm sure the principal was thrilled to find out how green I was. Ha!

I felt like it all went fairly well though. The principal said they'd be happy for me to work at their school again and that felt HUGE. (I didn't ask, they offered that comment.) And I'm off to a different school this morning.

Next week I am excited that I will get to take the library clerk training and then I can work in the libraries as well. Eventually I hope I can get a permanent position in a school but for now I just want to work in as many different situations (offices/libraries/elementary schools/high schools) as I can.

I'm so happy that Sam and Rachel are excited for (and with) me, that Dave is able to take on the morning before school routines, and that we have an awesome babysitter who is willing to be on call to hang out Sam and Rachel after school. I really couldn't do this without my village.
So if you're looking for me, I'll just be over here, waiting for the phone to ring... Or you know, trying to figure out how to buzz people into the school and make phone calls. They didn't cover either of those in the training. Ha!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

#AMonthofFaves On the Screen or in Your Ear

Today I'm, once again, linking up with Kim and Tanya at GirlXOXO (link here) and T of Traveling With T (link here) for #AMonthofFaves. We're talking about what we've watched/listened to this past year. If you've read my What's Up Wednesday posts (a monthly link up I participate in) at all, you'll know that I'm never really watching, or listening to, much of anything... normal, shall we say. I'm always watching grass grow, the leaves change, piles of schoolwork grow, or the kids at the pool. In terms of listening it's been tires on the road (during our road trip), the construction down the street, or Rachel singing. So I'm going to do my best with this one...

First of all, Dave and I talked about it and I don't think we saw a single movie in theatres this year. Yep, we are those people. Yikes. However, we did see some good musicals which I'll share here.

In early January we took a trip to New York City and we gave Rachel the Frozen musical on Broadway as her Christmas gift. However, we all got to take advantage of her gift :) It was AMAZING!!! I thought it would be entertaining for Rachel and just okay for Dave and I. I was wrong. I cried, it was so good.
For Sam's birthday, we took him and a good friend to see The Lightning Thief musical in Toronto. It was much more campy and Dave and I didn't love it. Sam, however, thought it was "okay, I guess. It could have been better." However, he thought it was better than Frozen. Ha!
In May, Dave and I went to see Come From Away in Toronto. I LOVED IT!!! I would go see it every week if I could. If you have a chance to see this musical, DO IT. I just loved everything about it.

After seeing Come From Away, I listened to the soundtrack 24/7 for about a month. That soundtrack is just incredible.

In terms of what we've been listening to, besides Come From Away, I would say the prevalent music of this year has been Imagine Dragons. Sam discovered his love for them and shared it will all the rest of us. Whenever I hear an Imagine Dragons song, I will think of Sam in 2019.

Rachel's favourite songs are Rachel Platten, Stand By You, and Celine Dion's It's All Coming Back To Me Now. She also love Stan Rogers, Northwest Passage (which she calls "Hand of Franklin"). She may be influenced in her musical tastes by her parents. Hahaha!!!

I guess the other significant watching of 2019 is that Dave and I finally started watching Grey's Anatomy. We finished Season 2 in the summer and haven't gotten back into it yet but we tend to watch more in the winter. We get the DVDs from the library so we're a bit old school.

So that's been our media for the year. I warned you that we're super exciting! Ha!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Daily Photo: December 3 - 9, 2019

This week showed me that I really need a tripod if I want to continue to take pictures without a flash. I apologize in advance for all the blurriness but I really hated using the flash in some of this lighting.

December 3, 2019 -- We had a unique dinner of Kraft Dinner this night and for some reason Sam ended up with two forks. So he put them both to good use.

December 4, 2019 -- Rachel had a dance performance on the first weekend in December, and we had an ice storm, so I didn't actually get the Advent wreath made until this day. And then we had a classy dinner of grilled cheese by candlelight. (And the end result is a blurry photo.)

December 5, 2019 -- It was the kind of week where I baked challah for Friday night dinner on Thursday night. (I usually try to make it on Friday afternoon.)

December 6, 2019 -- If you read my blog post yesterday, you already know that Friday night was our neighbourhood Christmas party and tree pick up at our local park. I loved the park with all the Christmas trees leaning against other trees and the lights. (And where's that tripod again?!?!)

December 7, 2019 -- This is another picture of Rachel preparing to worship lead at church the next day. Can you even find her?!?! It's like "Where's Waldo?" Ha!

December 8, 2019 -- At church during Advent, we collect socks, hats, and mittens for a local community living complex. This was our full tree on the second Sunday in Advent.

December 9, 2019 -- We had a day of rain and above freezing temperatures. Thus our backyard looks like March this week, rather than December.

Monday, December 09, 2019

A Day (or Weekend) in the Life

Today in the link up with with Kim and Tanya at GirlXOXO (link here) and T of Traveling With T (link here) for #AMonthofFaves we're talking about a day (or weekend) in our lives. I didn't take a ton of pictures this weekend because a lot of the time, we were with other people and I felt a bit awkward about it. However, hopefully these pictures will give you a good sense of our interfaith weekend.
On Friday after school, the kids and I baked cookies. We were having guests over the next day and I wanted cookies for dessert. We make Jell-O cookies (recipe here) and even though the recipe says it was only posted in May 2019, the blogger must have changed their post. We've been making these for quite a few years now. We make red (raspberry) and green (lime) for Christmas and yellow (lemon) and blue (blue raspberry) for Channukah.
We had a fast supper where we briefly lit both the Shabbat candles and the Advent wreath because we were headed off to...
 
...our neighbourhood Christmas tree pick up party. It's held at a local park. While we weren't going to stay very long, the kids enjoyed playing and roasting marshmallows and Dave and I enjoyed visiting so we were there for over an hour.

Then I came home, crawled into bed, read for a bit, and was asleep before 10. Yikes.
Saturday mornings are always a bit of a rush getting both kids out the door. Rachel has over two hours of dance on Saturday morning (and is at the level where she has to have a bun) and Sam has Religious School at the synagogue. This day, Dave was teaching Religious School so he needed to get out the door for the morning too.
After everyone was gone, I folded laundry and addressed some of our holiday cards while listening to the first Christmas music of the season.
And I rearranged the dining room to clear a spot for our Christmas tree.
Then I headed out, walking through the cemetery to catch the LRT to pick Rachel up from dance. A friend met us there and drove us to church so that she and Rachel could practice worship leading for the next day.
This is a picture from their practice on Saturday. It's unusual for an eight year old to worship lead at our church but Rachel expressed interest and a good friend of ours worked with her to plan the service and figure it all out. I'm so thankful for adult mentors who help nurture my kids' interests.
Our friend drove Rachel and I home and I made tuna melts. Dave and Sam got home from the synagogue just as the tuna melts were ready.
We were all really tired so I declared it was family nap time. Rachel crawled into bed with me and supposedly slept for about half an hour. I was exhausted and slept for two hours. Ooops. Then I dealt with some ice on our driveway, tidied up, and prepared for our friends to come for dinner.
We extended our table with our big board and Rachel was in charge of setting the table. I made a double batch of Mexican lasagna (which is basically tortillas, cheddar cheese, and a bean filling) and we had a really good evening with our friends.
After they left, Rachel and I did some dishes and got most of them done in about fifteen minutes. Sam was already in bed reading and Dave was doing other tidying. And no, we don't have a dishwasher.
Once the kids were in bed, I read a book with my comfort (magic? heat?) bag wrapped around my feet. This is often how I go to bed in the winter.
Sunday morning I woke up and wrote a quick children's story as Sam and I were on for presenting it in church that morning. Normally, I would have thought about it earlier, but there was a lot going on and I just didn't get around to it. I focused on the Isaiah 11 verse about the "wolf lying down with the lamb" but I thought it was the "lion lying down with the lamb" so maybe I misled the kids...? Ooops.
Sam and I practiced and Rachel ate breakfast. Then we all got ready to head out the door for the day.
I LOVE our church. I love the people. I love the feeling I get when I walk in the door. I love that there are adults who love my kids.
Rachel did an excellent job of worship leading and lots of people gave her encouragement afterwards. She was so happy to be done!
After church we drove through the countryside to Dave's parents'. We had lunch with them and then Dave's dad gave Rachel, Sam, and I a Hebrew lesson. We are all trying to learn Hebrew this year. It's HARD. We know thirteen letters and eleven vowel sounds so the words we're able to make (and read) are getting long and tricky. Dave's mom had some old books and schoolwork of Dave's to pass on so we also looked through that.
On the way home, we stopped at Costco and picked up a picture order which had been sitting there for almost two weeks. Yikes. There's just been a lot going on lately.
We got home and got our Christmas tree inside. We unwrapped it and let the branches settle. Hopefully we'll get it decorated tonight. Hopefully!
Dave, Sam, and Rachel played a game which Dave had invented when he was in Grade 5 as a school project. It is about prospecting for gold in the Yukon so it reminded the kids of our trip this past summer! This was one of the things we brought home from Dave's parents' house.
We had fish tacos for supper and lit the second candle on our Advent wreath.

After supper, we found out some news which we had been waiting for about our summer. It is news that mostly effects Sam and we spent the rest of the evening processing the news we received. I will talk about it more on the blog at some point, but I'm just not ready yet. However, I wanted to be honest and say that I stopped taking pictures at this point because it's hard to take pictures of lots of conversations :)

I will also be honest and say that this weekend, although filled with lots of fun, was hard. I am tired and that is not a great way to be heading into this week. I would have liked to have more time at home, and more energy, to get things done. But some weekends are like that and deserve to be documented as truthfully as the really fun and exciting weekends, right?

I am excited about one particular thing this week and I think I will try and blog about it more on Thursday, when I have a bit more information to share with you all. I will give you a hint though: I have been unemployed (not by choice) since the end of August, and today and tomorrow I am doing training and orientation for MY NEW JOB!!! Whoo hooo!!! I really can't wait to share more with you once I have a better sense of a few things :)