Monday, November 30, 2020

25 Days Of Gratitude Photo Challenge: Week Four

This is my last post for the 25 Days of Gratitude Photo Challenge. This photo challenge has been hosted by Leslie at Once Upon A Time and Happily Ever After.

My Autumn 2020 Bucket List: Update 10.2020 

image from here

Good health

Shoveling a lot of snow four times over the course of eight hours has got to keep me in good health, right?!?!?


I really enjoyed reading this book this week. It's a love story but not the one you expect when you first start to read it. I really liked it.


It was so quiet on our street the day it snowed. Hardly anyone was out and about driving and it was such a peaceful day. 


Here is our official family photo from earlier in the month and a candid photo from last week. Whether we're being (somewhat) formal or candid, I love my little family :)

Friday, November 27, 2020

In Which We Escaped From The City...

A few Saturdays ago we met up with some friends from out of town at a conservation area about halfway between our houses. We wanted to see them in person but still be able to remain distant. Visiting this conservation area, on a beautiful fall day, was the best of both worlds. It was amazing to see our friends in person and it was a gorgeous place to visit.

I didn't realize that they had added an art installation since we had visited last and we enjoyed seeing all the different wood carvings.
I also loved walking through the woods and seeing the lake.
I need to find ways to keep getting outside, even when the weather gets colder. After all, I'm fairly certain the outdoors is just as beautiful and amazing in winter too. I'm just a little less convinced of it :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

What's Up Wednesday: November 2020

Welcome to What's Up Wednesday for November 2020. I'm linking up with Shay at Mix and Match Mama and Sheaffer at Sheaffer Told Me To to talk about what we've been up to lately. I love writing these posts, I love reading all of your posts, and I love re-reading my posts to see what we've been up to in previous months/years.

image from here

What we're eating this week... A few weeks ago, Holly who blogs over at Pink Lady, wrote about a cookie her mom makes, Applesauce Jumbles. They sounded delicious and thankfully she shared the recipe. Let's just say, we're on our second batch already. These cookies are DELICIOUS!!! You need to go to Holly's blog, get the recipe here, and make yourself a batch as soon as possible. Seriously, they're so good.

What I'm reminiscing about... Last year, around this time, Rachel was in her first holiday dance performance. Her studio alternates between performing "The Snowman and the Snowdog" and "The Nutcracker." This was supposed to be a Nutcracker year and I'm so sad it's not happening. So instead I'm reminiscing about last year when she was a polar bear.
What I'm loving... Our family pictures! We got them taken on a gorgeous day in early November and I LOVE how they turned out. Here's a small sample:

All pictures by Tessa of "t.e.h photography."
What we've been up to... We've managed to get outside and to a forest for all of the weekends in November thus far and I've been loving our forest hikes/walks. I'm feeling committed to getting outside, and getting exercise once again, and it's been such a good way to soak up some of the beautiful weather we've been having before winter hits.

What I'm dreading... Christmas without my parents :( And the holidays in general. I'm dreading not being able to get together with anybody. Boo.
What I'm working on... I ordered our holiday cards (Update: They arrived yesterday!!!) and I've been working on our 2021 calendars. We make two every year -- one for us and one for my parents -- and I have been working on those. Also, on Sunday, I shoveled snow four times in eight hours so I was working on that too!
What I'm excited about... We have a Cheese Advent Calendar sitting in our fridge, so honestly, I'm excited about that :) Plus, I've taken Friday off of work and Dave and I are hoping to do all of our Channukah/Christmas shopping in one day. We're committed to supporting local so we're going to hit our uptown and hopefully get it all done. I'm excited to spend a day with Dave and excited to spend a day in our uptown again.

What I'm watching/reading... We finally started watching Hallmark Christmas movies. I know, I know, I'm pretty far behind the curve on this one, but I feel like Christmas is special and having two (or more) months of Christmas isn't special to me. I'm really going to soak up all the holiday goodness starting this weekend, but we watched a couple of the movies this past weekend and they were fun! We saw Christmas in Vienna and Christmas Tree Lane.

The last book I read was "In Five Years" by Rebecca Serle. It reminded me a little bit of "Oona Out of Order" in that the main character gets a glimpse of the future and then the story is about how they get to that very different looking future.
What I'm listening to... Right now as I'm writing this blog post, Rachel is working on Dave's computer, writing a play for her stuffed animals and listening to music through headphones and singing. Loudly. She's alternating between "Into the Unknown" and "My Heart Will Go On." 
What I'm wearing... Well, Sam got a Sherpa sweater in March, I got one in October, and then I got one for Rachel in November. This past weekend Dave commented, "I want one too!" so we're all wearing them. As Dave said, "We're just a big pile of cozy!" Hahaha!!!

What I'm doing this weekend... We might try to get out to the woods again. We're going to light the first candle on our Advent wreath and I'm going to pull out our Christmas and Channukah decorations. It's time to get festive!

What I'm looking forward to next month... Jólabókaflóð. This is the Icelandic tradition of giving everyone a new book and spending Christmas Eve reading. Our family has done this the past couple of years and I LOVE it. It's such a cozy way to spend the evening. The kids call it the Christmas-athon which I love :)

What else is new... Since we're Canadian, we celebrated Thanksgiving back in October. However, the kids wanted to mark American Thanksgiving this year so we've planned a special supper for tomorrow night. Then we might break out our matching family pajamas for this year and start addressing our holiday cards. We shall see...

Monday, November 23, 2020

25 Days Of Gratitude Photo Challenge: Week Three

As has become my routine on Mondays in November, I am posting my 25 Days of Gratitude Photo Challenge. This photo challenge is being hosted by Leslie at Once Upon A Time and Happily Ever After. Here's what I've been grateful for this past week.

My Autumn 2020 Bucket List: Update 10.2020 

image from here


I woke up this morning and had an hour long Instagram message conversation with my good friend in Kenya. I had to celebrate this surprise connection by drinking out of my Kenya coffeehouse mug.


My morning at work included a doughnut which was a great 10:00am pick me up! 


My evening consisted of drinking tea, eating cookies, and reading my book for book club. It was pretty perfect actually! 



This picture combines some of my favourite hobbies -- blogging, reading, and being with friends. Yes, this is my blog friends book club! Meet Allena, Emily, and Erika. When Covid hit, I couldn't imagine anything good coming out of it but honestly, this has become one of my favourite nights of the month.



I wrote in my "10 on the 10th" post how I was sick of cold lunches. Sarah, another blog friend, suggested eating bagels with cream cheese, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Seriously, these sandwiches are soooo good!!! Also, I have about ten office chairs in my work space so this is the one which holds my lunch!


My play this day was hanging new ornaments on our outside tree and trying to get a unique picture. I like playing with the settings on my camera. 

Warm Beverage

I baked another batch of my new favourite cookies, and drank Earl Grey tea out of the mug I bought in Vienna, while we watched the Hallmark movie, "Christmas in Vienna." It was a very cozy evening.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Monthly Musings: Holiday Preview

It's NOT the last Thursday of the month but it's one of my new favourite blog link ups with Holly and Patty for their Monthly Musings. Since next week is American Thanksgiving, they moved the link up a week. (And then Wednesday got busy and I didn't get this post done in time, so I'm posting this on Friday, later than I had intended.)


image from here

1) Favourite holiday traditions?

I think my favourite holiday tradition is our Christmas Eve night. We start the evening by eating French Onion Soup for supper. We usually go to the Christmas Eve service at church (but not this year -- BOO) which is a lessons and carols service. We end by singing Silent Night and a few other songs by candlelight and it's so beautiful.

Then we come home, put on our matching family pjs, and have our appetizer snack --  fancy cheeses, crackers, meats, and chocolate. And then, for the past two years, we open up a new book and spend the rest of the evening reading. We've incorporated the Icelandic tradition of Jólabókaflóð, which means "flood of books" into our Christmas Eve and we love it. The kids call it the "Christmas-athon"!


My favourite Channukah holiday tradition is our church small group Channukah party with its reading of "The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story" and the crazy game of driedel. I think the kids/teens in our small group look forward to this gathering every year.

(And now I'm just sad about not being able to do some of my favourite things this holiday season.)

2) Must have holiday wardrobe staples?

Our matching family pjs! We found a Canadian company which makes non-Christmasy ones and we've had them for the past two years. I LOVE them and I'm excited about this years pairs!!! We usually break them out on December 1.

3) Favourite holiday recipe/dish?

For the past few years I've made my friend's bourbon apple cider for Christmas Eve and I love it. I won't share the recipe because it isn't mine to share but I will give you some other ones.

The cookies we love to make are Jell-O cookies. We make them with blue and yellow Jell-O for Channukah and with whatever colours for the rest of the month. You can find the recipe here. (Sidenote: I know the post is dated May 2019 but I was definitely making them before that date. It's so weird.)

I also love making holiday potpourri. I put a few orange slices, two cinnamon sticks, some whole cloves, and some cranberries into a small pot with water. Then I bring it to a boil and let it simmer. Whenever I'm home in December, this potpourri is simmering on the stove. It smells sooooo good. I mix up a new batch every few days and add water as necessary. This is another thing I break out on December 1 :)

4) What will your holiday plans look like this year?

I don't know.

Honestly, we were so tempted to fly and spend the holidays with my parents in Saskatchewan. It doesn't feel like the smart decision but our province is talking about extending our winter break from school because they know people will get together with their families over this time. So either we enjoy Christmas with my parents or we "enjoy" two (three? four? more?) weeks of lock down at home by ourselves. Neither choice is awesome and I am crying just thinking about it.

 But if the province is assuming everyone will get together with their families over the holidays, then why can't we?

Edited to add: It now appears that our province won't extend the school winter break and we are trying to find fun things to do at home. Honestly, I'm just sad about the holidays this year.

5) Favourite holiday song?

I don't know that I have one. I love The Pentatonix Christmas CD and I have a CD of Christmas choral music from a local church and I basically play those two CDs nonstop in December.

6) Does Covid-19 make you want to do up the holidays or make you not into it?

It makes me not into it. I wish I could just sleep through the holidays this year. I won't because Dave and the kids don't deserve that but I'm being really honest. Can we just all skip Channukah and Christmas this year? Please.

7) Do you have any charities you like to help this time of year?

 Nothing to wake me up out my selfish perspective like reminding me other people are in way worse shape. There are people who feel like I do this year every single year. Their worries aren't stress about getting the holiday shopping done or trying to fit all the fun things in but rather, Will we have food to eat? Do we have enough money to pay the power bill and keep the heat on so we don't freeze? Can we at least give our kids one small gift this year?

For the past few years we have done a reverse Advent calendar. We use the one below and take the kids grocery shopping for it around the end of November. Each kid gets their own cart and picks out their own food. Then we wrap a cardboard box in paper and every day during Advent the kids put an item in the box. On Christmas Eve we take it to the local food bank and donate it.


We also buy hats, socks, and mittens for each of us to hang something on our church's tree during each of the four Sundays of Advent. The kids' school usually does "5 Days of Giving" and we send something for that every day. We really try to give back a lot during December because we know we have so much.

8) Tree before or after Thanksgiving?

Don't forget, for Canadians, Thanksgiving was way back in October so definitely after! But for us, it's even after American Thanksgiving. As I've said before, we do a live tree (except for the one year we did a book tree because we were traveling) so we don't get it until the first week of December. But then we keep it up until after New Years. 

Our book tree from 2016 (I think)

9) Favourite holiday movie?

I don't know that I have one. Maybe Love Actually. And we always watch A Charlie Brown Christmas one night in December. But I don't really have one. I am looking forward to diving into a bunch of Hallmark movies this year. I haven't started watching them yet but we may start this weekend...

10) Egg Nog... yes or no? 

I say, "A HARD NO!" Dave and Rachel love it though and Rachel is bummed we haven't bought any yet this year.