Friday, December 14, 2018

On Your Holiday Wishlist

Here's the biggest thing on my holiday wish list this year -- to enjoy the holidays. Let me explain.

We usually spend the holidays with my parents, either we go to Saskatchewan or they come here. I have spent maybe four or five Christmases in my entire life without my parents (and I'm 46 -- I've had a lot of Christmases!).
Celebrating with Mom and Dad one of the years they came here.
 
However, this year, they headed to a warmer climate over the holidays so we won't see them. I am trying to be a mature adult about it (which sucks and is really hard - ha), and Dave and I spent a lot of time thinking about how we should spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, specifically, as those will be the toughest 24 hours for me. It just feels like everyone is with family during that time -- especially at our church's Christmas Eve service. (And lest you have forgotten/don't know, Dave's family is Jewish so spending the holidays with them isn't an option.)
 The year we were traveling over Christmas so we did
a new tradition of a book tree rather than a real Christmas tree.
It was awesome!

So we are adding in some new traditions (the Icelandic tradition of Jólabókaflóð for one, which the kids are calling a "Christmas-athon"!) and homemade pizza on Christmas Day. We are going to do some traditional things too like the Christmas Eve service at church (which I hope won't make me too sad) and presents, obviously.

I realize in my head that I'm being a lot selfish. My parents are still alive* and making this totally reasonable choice for one Christmas (that I know of). I have Dave and the kids to celebrate with. We have so much to be thankful for.

*I have friends who have lost parents recently so I don't take for granted that mine are still around.

My heart is just finding a bit harder.

So that's what's on my holiday wish list -- to enjoy (and maybe, even love) this opportunity to make room for new traditions and experiences. And maybe to gain a bit of maturity through it too :)

Once again I've linked up with Kimberly, Andi, Tamara, and Tanya for #AMonthofFaves.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Routines, Habits and Changes

I love how linking up with Kimberly, Andi, Tamara, and Tanya for #AMonthofFaves has gotten me back into blogging -- for this month anyways! Today we're talking about "Routines, Habits and Changes. What Worked this Year and/or What Didn’t."

I'm going to talk about a couple of things I've just started doing since September which I think have really helped with my life.

The first one is (mostly) cutting out after supper snacking. I realized about mid-September that I was mindlessly (most nights) reaching for a snack every single night once the kids were in bed. It wasn't even that I was always hungry -- it was just a bad habit.

So I decided to cut it out completely. I am happy to say that I have mostly broken this habit. Having accountability with Dave really helped me. Now when I want a snack, I explain to Dave why I need it. He never dissuades me but I find that having to think about why I'm eating helps me not to snack as much. I would say that I now have a post-supper snack about once every week or two rather than every night.

For those of you who have read around here for any length of time you know how much I love and adore a cold Coke. Again, this past fall I realized that I was drinking at least one, if not two, cans a day every single day. I justified it by the fact that I don't really drink much alcohol (once a month, if that), I don't do a lot of sweets (although salty is totally my thing!), and I don't really think I have a lot of other bad habits.
from Summer 2015

But this Coke thing was getting way unhealthy and I knew it. So I decided to go cold turkey and only drink one every other day, if that. As I'm writing this post it's been three days since I've had a Coke.

I would like to make a couple of other healthy (healthier?!?!) eating changes. Again, those of you who have read around here for any length of time will know how much I struggle with drinking water. It's so good for me so why do I have such a hard time with this?!?!? I don't know. Hand in hand with that, I'd like to cut down on the amount of coffee-hot chocolate I drink. I make it at home so it's not like I'm downing three Starbucks mochas a day, but I probably don't need three mugs at home either.

So there you go -- my eating (drinking!) struggles all laid out for you. I think in the New Year, after the holidays are over, I'm going to work on the coffee-hot chocolate/water struggle. I feel like they complement each other and will be easier to tackle together but we shall see.

What have you struggled with/changed this past year? Let's celebrate our accomplishments/keep each other motivated together.

Monday, December 10, 2018

A Day In The Life -- Saturday, December 8, 2018

Once again, I'm linking up with Kimberly, Andi, Tamara, and Tanya for #AMonthofFaves. Today we're sharing a day in the life from this past weekend, and I'm sharing about this past Saturday.

A few things to note:

1) My husband is Jewish and I am Christian and we are raising our children in both faiths. Thus, as of last night, we just finished celebrating Chanukah, plus we have a little bit of Christmas stuff going on.

2) This was not a typical Saturday for us!

3) My family consists of me (Natasha), my husband, Dave, our nine year old son, Sam, and our seven year old daughter, Rachel.

With those explanations, welcome aboard.

With everything going on with the holidays, and with Rachel having had the stomach flu on Friday, I was exhausted and didn't set an alarm. I woke up at about 8:20 and got right to work making supper for a family in our church. The husband just had surgery and I wanted to send a meal to help out. Dave dropped it off on his way to the synagogue with Sam while I stayed home with a still recuperating Rachel. And I drank my first cup of coffee-hot chocolate in my Chanukah mug.
Our church small group came over that evening for our annual Chanukah party (yes, you read that correctly!) so I baked a batch of buns so we could make sandwiches.
 Rachel took a picture of me kneading the dough. This was at about 10am.
Once the dough was rising in the over, Rachel and I did dishes. (We don't have a dishwasher so doing dishes is pretty common around here.)
Around 11am, Rachel and I walked to a local handmade holiday sale happening about five minutes away from us to buy some gifts.
When we got home, Rachel watched a video and I tidied the house and took pictures of our Chanukah decorations for an upcoming post. By this time it was about 11:50am.
 I caught up on some laundry. I LOVE having an indoor clothesline. I rarely use our dryer.
I had been fighting a headache all morning so while Rachel was watching videos, and we were waiting for Dave and Sam to get home from synagogue, I napped for about an hour. It helped.
Excuse my post-nap, still slightly fighting a headache, look :)
 
By 2pm I had formed the dough into buns and eaten lunch. Then I showered and did more tidying.
One thing I had to do was clear space in our dining room for our Christmas tree which we had picked up the night before through our local neighbourhood association.
By around 3:30 the first of the buns were baking and we gave Sam and Rachel some Chanukah presents. We had hoped they would keep the kids entertained while Dave and I got ready to host our small group of about twenty people.
While the buns were baking I updated our family calendar, about a week late. I bought this calendar in the dollar spot when we visited the World's First Target in Minnesota about two years ago and it has become the go-to spot for us all to find out what's going on. We've all be thrown off this past week when I hadn't yet updated it.
By 4:45pm, Rachel was napping (a rare occasion but this one was thanks to recuperating from the stomach flu), Sam was playing with his Chanukah present, Dave was making a triple batch of latkes, and I was doing more dishes and keeping the bun baking going.

From 5 to about 8:30, we hosted our small group. The kids played, we ate amazing food, we lit the candles for the seventh night of Chanukah...
 
... we read our annual Chanukah story, The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, and the kids played driedel. This is the most intense driedel game and the kids love winning the chocolates.
 
By 8:30, everyone had left. I put the kids to bed while Dave tackled dishes. Then I tidied the rest of the house while Dave continued with dishes.
Rachel had a nightmare around 10pm so I re-settled her, which took about forty-five minutes. Sam was also having a hard time settling and I blame all the chocolate he ate during the driedel game. Finally both kids were asleep and I had another load of laundry going. Dave was almost done dishes, and at 11:20pm, I finally crawled into bed to read and go to sleep.
It was a very full Saturday. I might try to do another Saturday Day in the Life in February when things are a little less holiday intense, and a lot more normal!

Friday, December 07, 2018

Blogger Love Edition

So I don't have a lot of people who blog consistently who I read anymore but here are three of my favourites:

Bekah at Bekah's Bits. I started reading Bekah about six years ago (how is it THAT long already?!?!?) right as she married Ryan and they began their lives together. Bekah blogs every single day, and even though I don't comment all that often she inspires me. I also got the opportunity to meet Bekah and Ryan at their beloved lake and you can read all about that here.
me and Bekah in July 2016

Another blog I read really consistently is Emily at The Cole Bin. Emily is hilarious and honest and I'm really hoping to meet her in real life at some point. She also points me to good books and I think her reading taste is really similar to mine. I've known Emily through the blog world for about three and a half years now - craziness!!!

The last blogger is a little newer to me, like in the last year or so, but you should also check out Allena at A Gurley Girl. I was inspired to do a Project 365 this year, which petered out in mid-June, but Allena's has been going strong all year. I'm really impressed! Also, Allena also tends to recommend books which I really enjoy, so that always makes me happy!

Honourable mentions go to Amanda and Allison (who has a private blog) who don't blog as regularly anymore - boo. I'm still hoping to get to Texas and meet you guys someday...

And I'm so excited that I got to meet these bloggers in real life (which you can read about here), who also don't blog as regularly anymore -- Sherry, Erika, Kelly, and Amy (it looks like her blog has gone private too).

So there is my blogger love for this year.

A lot of the bloggers I read, who used to blog more regularly (see my side bar), have now become more active on Instagram. I have to admit, I am way more active over there than I am on my blog too so I get it. I'm so glad for the blogging world which brought us together and for the Instagram world which is keeping us still connected!

Again I'm linking up with Kimberly, Andi, Tamara, and Tanya for #AMonthofFaves. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Popular Books Worth The Hype (Or Not Worth The Hype)

Well I don't know if I have a good response to this one but I LOVE talking about books so I'll blather on anyways! Ha!

I am going to talk about three books (with a fourth (dis) honorable mention), I read (or couldn't get through) this year which I'm guessing most of you have heard of.

The first one, which I LOVED, is Educated by Tara Westover. I thought this was such a good book and I read it in a few days. In my opinion, if you haven't read it yet, you should. It is a memoir of a woman who grew up in a family who were preparing for the government to attack them at any time. They also eschewed anything governmental, including school and hospitals.

I also think you should read it along with The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah. To me this is basically the fictional account of Educated but set in Alaska in the 70s. I read both these books in the same week as my library holds on them came in at the same time, and now the two are forever linked in my mind. In fact, I'm making my book club read them together for January. In my opinion, these two books are well worth the hype.
Educated by Tara WestoverThe Great Alone: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
image from here --- image from here

Here's a book I couldn't even get through although I feel bad saying this because I know so many people loved it: The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner. Again, it's a memoir of a woman who lived an unusual childhood moving between The States and her family's compound in Mexico.

I don't know. It just didn't grab me. Maybe I tried to read it at the wrong time. Maybe it just wasn't for me. Or maybe I just don't get it. I will try it again. Some day. It's rare that I can't finish a book -- it happened to me twice this year, once in 2017, and once in 2016 -- so when I don't finish books, they haunt stick with me.
The Sound Of Gravel: A Memoir by Ruth Wariner 
image from here  

The last book which gets a dishonorable mention is My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. Again, maybe I just didn't get it. I finished this book but it was more determination rather than that I really loved it. It's about a woman who decides to sleep for a year in hopes of improving her life.
My Year Of Rest And Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh 
image from here 

So those are my books which I think were totally worth it and two which I think you could skip. Have you read any of these? What did you think if you read them?

ps. None of my links are affiliate links, in case you were wondering :)

Also I'm linking up with Kimberly, Andi, Tamara, and Tanya for #AMonthofFaves. 

Monday, December 03, 2018

The 2018 Favorites Edition

I will admit that my blog has mostly died this year. It makes me sad but, as this next month will show, I'm not completely willing to bury it just yet. (How many times have I said this before?!?!?)

So this month I am joining up with Kimberly, Tanya, Andi, and Tamara in blogging #AMonthOfFaves. Kimberly and Andi are readathon friends from Instagram which is how I heard about this month.

So today's topic is "The 2018 Favourites Edition." (I added the Canadian spelling of "favorites"!) The suggestions of what to blog about were wide open in terms of "to eat, drink, wear, smell, see, do, enjoy" etc, etc, etc. But when I hit "most squee worthy moment of the year" I knew what I was blogging about. Especially since I haven't blogged about it before. (Ooooo, the suspense!)

In June, Dave and I celebrated ten years of marriage. We decided this was a momentous event so we ditched the kids (with Dave's parents and they had the BEST time so don't feel too bad for them), and we headed off to Iceland!!! It was the first time we'd traveled just the two of us since our honeymoon. (Unless you count a one night babymoon to Slave Lake, AB when I was pregnant with Rachel -- which I obviously don't! Ha!)

Dave and I headed off on a Thursday night and spent four full days exploring Iceland.

Here are some of the highlights:
I loved that lupines were everywhere! I don't know that I've ever seen so many lupines in my whole life. They were gorgeous.
We spent the morning of the day we arrived exploring the Reykjanes peninsula. I loved standing between the North American and European continents. We also loved the rocky shoreline and the ocean.
We spent the afternoon in Reykjavik and attending the Reykjavik Elf School. We now have certificates to prove our increased knowledge of elves and hidden people.
We drove The Golden Circle (and more) on our second day. Our first stop was Öxarárfoss -- an amazing waterfall which isn't an official Golden Circle stop. However, the walk to the falls was completely worth it. It was one of my and Dave's favourite spots.
Dave really wanted a picture of him and Icelandic ponies!
Although the original Geysir doesn't go off anymore, we stopped at its park and enjoyed this much more active geyser.
Gulfoss is an original Golden Circle attraction and it was pretty amazing. We were able to walk right down to the falls as well as taking the path to observe the falls from above.
While much is made of The Blue Lagoon, I really loved The Secret Lagoon. It was much less touristy and is one of the older swimming places in all of Iceland. It was made in 1891. Then we went to Friðheimar, a tomato greenhouse. We enjoyed amazing tomato soup while surrounded by tomato plants.
We also stopped at Kerið, a crater lake. We were able to walk around the top of the crater as well as around the lake itself.
Dave and I didn't think we were going to make to Seljalandsfoss but we had some unexpected time, due to Selfoss NOT being a waterfall (ha!), and with the midnight sun in full effect, we added this to our day. Walking behind this waterfall was one of my and Dave's favourite things to do.
Another treat for me was getting to read at 11:30 at night, by natural sunlight, in this park near our Airbnb. This was really fun for me!
We spent our third day relaxing a little bit, souvenir shopping, and exploring the city of Reykjavik. A highlight for both of us was hearing this concert at Harpa.
On our last full day in Iceland, Dave and I climbed up Mt Esja. It was a crazy hike and pushed both of us to our limits.
The best part of this day, besides the beauty of Mt Esja, and making it safely back down, was soaking in the geothermal pool at Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach. It was glorious to soak in the pool and then cool off in the ocean. We may have spent a few hours here!
Our trip to Iceland was short but we packed so much into our time and just really enjoyed being together and exploring a new place. And for both of us, there were many "squee moments" to our trip.

And in case you missed it, I blogged here about our family's "squee moment" of the year -- our Disney Cruise in February. You can go check those posts out too!
See you back here on Wednesday when I delve into the topic of  "Popular Books Worth The Hype."