Thursday, April 29, 2021

Monthly Musings: Spring Cleaning

I'm linking up with Holly and Patty to muse about spring cleaning. You would think with all this time I've had at home lately that spring cleaning would be at the top of my list. Spoiler alert: It's not. I'd rather nap or read. I told Dave the other day, "I can't find my meaning in a clean house when it's just going to get dirty again in a month." So with that caveat, on with the questions.

1) Are you doing a spring cleaning this year?

I am not doing specific spring cleaning this year, although I probably should. We honestly tend to do our deeper cleans in the winter when it just isn't as nice to be outside.

2) Favourite cleaning products?

We just use old dishcloths or washcloths as rags and then warm water. Maybe a bit of dish soap if we're really scrubbing at something but I don't have great products.

3) What is your must clean for every spring?

Usually the biggest thing is just washing and packing away all the winter gear. I haven't done that yet this year because it might snow again. But that's the biggest spring job I tackle. I'd love to wash all our curtains and hang them on the laundry line but, thanks to the renovations next door, our laundry line hasn't been as available this spring. Boo.

4) Any garage/shed cleaning tips?

We do tend to clean our garage out every year in the fall and spring. My biggest tip is empty it all out and only put back what you'll use. We use that empty out time to get rid of things we haven't used in awhile. It seems like every six months, there is something more we can get rid of.

5) Pack rat or Marie Kondo devotee?

We're definitely Marie Kondo devotees over here. We're always getting rid of stuff. None of us can really stand clutter.

6) Best cleaning hack?

Make your bed. The rest of a room will look amazing if the bed is made! Same for folding all the blankets neatly in the living room. Hahaha!

7) Do you have help with house cleaning?

Only from my family. I make the kids clean things when they're misbehaving. "You're driving me nuts -- wipe out the oven drawer!" It works :)

8) Favourite cleaning appliance?

Ummm... my washer. We don't have any cleaning appliances.

9) Run the dishwasher every night or just when full?

We don't have a dishwasher. We've never had one in our fourteen years together. We'd love to get one eventually but it will probably require a kitchen renovation. We usually do the dishes once or twice a day.

10) Favourite way to donate or purge unneeded items?

We have an empty bag continually waiting to be filled in our front hall closet. Most items go to the thrift store but we take all our books to Free Little Libraries in our neighbourhood. Getting rid of items is one thing we're really good at! Sadly, our thrift store is closed during our province's current lockdown because we have three bags of clothes (from the kids' drawers) to go there.

I'm looking forward to reading the other blogs in the link up because clearly I need some spring cleaning motivation! Or support in my lack of spring cleaning :) Hahaha!!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

What's Up Wednesday: April 2021

Welcome to the April 2021 version of What's Up Wednesday, also known as "The One Where It's Groundhog Day." As always, 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.

April 2021 feels A LOT like April 2020 in our province. We're back in a strict lockdown and our province's daily Covid numbers are really high. The main differences between this April and last April are that online learning is a full school day (for all of last spring it was only an hour an a half per day), the library is open for curbside pickup (thank goodness!!!), and more and more people we know are getting vaccinated. Plus MLB is happening. Yay for being able to watch the Blue Jays! But we can't see our friends, do anything (church, dance, etc) in person, or buy non-essential items in stores -- like office supplies or clothing.

I went back and re-read my April 2020 WUW post (you can find it here), and honestly, a lot of my answers are the same. It really does feel like Groundhog Day.

image from here

What we're eating this week... I talked in my January WUW post about the man in our church who bakes pies. Well, now that we're in lock down and online learning again, he brought us another pie. It was a cherry pie and Sam and I devoured it. It was delicious!!! We also made a charcuterie board for supper one night, at Sam's request, and we are loving all the fancy cheeses. So cheese and pie -- that's what we're eating around here.

What I'm reminiscing about... I'm reminiscing about last year at this time when I had a lot more hope that Covid would be a short-term thing. I also had a lot more emotional capacity for "keeping things fun" and "trying to keep spirits up." Now our province is talking about "things might be more normal by summer" and I feel like it's so false. I don't trust that we'll ever get back to normal. This is depressing but I'm so discouraged right now and all the things I would "normally" do to help improve my mood, I'm not allowed to do -- get together with friends, get a massage, etc.
Some of the things we did during our first lockdown last spring.

What I'm loving... I'm loving that more and more people I know are able to get vaccines. Honestly, this is the thing which brings me hope. As Canada has more access to vaccines, and more people get them, the closer we are to ending this third wave and getting our lives back.

What we've been up to... We've been up to working from home, online learning, and trying to keep our spirits up. We participated in a readathon this past Saturday so that was fun. We had our Spring Break from school earlier in April so we read a lot of books and went for lots of walks in woods. Mostly, we've just been waiting for Covid cases to go down so we can get together with friends...

What I'm dreading... Our schools are currently closed to in person learning which means I don't have a job. I'm really dreading that they might be closed until the end of the school year which means I won't have work for the next four months. Also, this is Sam's last year in elementary school so I really want him to be able to go back in person so he can say good-bye in a good way. Right now there is no reopening date for schools. Our provincial lock down is until "at least May 20" and our last day of school is June 28 so it's possible we could go back in person for a month.

Update: At 5pm yesterday I got a call to come work at a school for the next week. I was not expecting to have any work while the schools are shut so this is a HUGE relief.
What I'm working on... I'm working on keeping a good attitude. Since I'm not working, I'm trying to find things to occupy my time. I've read a lot of books lately. Also, I've had really bad allergies for the past month (runny nose and itchy eyes) so I've been napping a lot too. I really need more things to do...
What I'm excited about... In our province, they lowered the age of one type of vaccine so I was able to get my first shot last Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's been so great to see so many of my friends get their vaccines. Dave is still too young (by seventeen days -- boo) to get a first vaccine yet so we're waiting for him to qualify as well.

What I'm watching/reading... We've been watching some baseball games but other than that, we haven't really been watching much of anything. I've been reading a lot of books lately -- I'm averaging one a day. (I really don't have much else to do these days.) The last book I read was Untamed by Glennon Doyle and I really liked it. I've also been reading Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline. I'm about halfway through and I keep comparing it to Ready Player One and it's coming up short, thus far.

What I'm listening to... My family, all day long. We're all home together again and that's all I hear. Plus the construction happening next door. I really want something new to listen to :)

What I'm wearing... My glasses. Thanks to allergies, and since I haven't been going anywhere, I haven't been wearing my contacts much. I can't remember the last time I wore my glasses so consistently.
I could probably use a hair cut but hair salons are closed now too. 

What I'm doing this weekend... It's my birthday on Sunday so we'll be celebrating that as best we can. Dave and this kids are going to make my favourite foods. Hopefully the weather stays nice (read: not rainy) and we can go for some long walks. If not, I'll be watching a lot of baseball.

What I'm looking forward to next month... I'm really hoping our current lock down ends next month. I'm hopeful the kids will be able to go back to school. I'm hopeful the construction next door will be able to move towards the inside and not be so invasive. I'm hoping our weather warms up some more and I can plant all all my annuals. There's a lot of hope. It's such a tricky thing because honestly, I feel pretty hope-less this month, but despite the odds, I still have hope things will get better.

What else is new... I really think I've covered it all. There's really not much going on...

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Grocery Top Three

A few months ago, I gave you a peek into our fridge. You can read that post here. A few weeks ago there was a blog linkup about "what's in our fridge and pantries" which I didn't participate in. However, my blog friend Sarah, shared a Top Three Grocery survey which I thought was really interesting. You can see her post here.

Since my allergies are getting slightly better (yay!) I have a bit more energy to blog but since they're not completely gone (boo), you get posts like this because this is what I find interesting! Hahaha!

Favourite Food Stores (I'm interpreting this as "where I'd love to shop all the time" and not as "where we actually shop all the time.")


Vincenzo's (a local Italian store which has an amazing selection of cheese, among other things)


Least Favourite



Anywhere else...

Always on my list




Rare purchases

Meat (except in summer during BBQ season)

Chips (except during readathons)

Cookies (except during readathons)

Readathon snacks with all the food we rarely buy!

Never on my grocery store list

Eggs (we've been able to buy locally for a year now and I LOVE it! Update: I just got an email this morning that our local egg person had to get rid of their chickens so those will go back on the list until we can get them through our CSA. BUMMER.)

Challah and buns (I bake them! Except for hamburger and hot dog buns -- we do buy those)

Frozen suppers


I don't eat cereal but Dave and the kids do.

Raisin Bran



Right now we have so much cereal, it doesn't all fit in our cupboard which drives me nuts. The extra box sits on our island.



Cheese Ritz

Rice crackers (plain, cheese, and sesame flavoured)





Fruit my kids like in their lunches

Green apples (This is basically all Rachel eats for fruit. Ugh.)






Sour Cream

Frozen Vegetables (except for frozen peas, we don't use a lot of frozen veggies)


Mixed veggies 

Frozen corn

Frozen Fruit

For awhile I used to make smoothies for breakfast every morning but now we rarely use frozen fruit. Sam used to take frozen blueberries for lunch but he doesn't even do that anymore.

If you have done something similar to this, let me know. I'd love to see your answers. I think it's so interesting how different people feed their families.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

I Spy: Week 16

In some ways this has been a really hard week (Covid restrictions, allergies, being out of work again) and in other ways this has been an amazing week. I found it easy to find pictures for the photo prompts for this week of Lysha's I Spy Photo Challenge. You can find the other participants at Lysha's blog here.

Let's Play iSpy 2021

{Kitchen Sink}

I can't show our "kitchen sink" without showing its two sides -- on the left, dirty dishes waiting to be washed; on the right, clean dishes waiting to be put away. We don't have a dishwasher so it's almost always got dishes surrounding it.


I was thrilled to be able to finally plant my pansies and ranunculus in our window boxes yesterday. We had snow earlier this week (ugh) so I had to wait awhile. I'm excited to see how they change as spring progresses. 


Well things are finally starting to look "up" around here. On Sunday our province announced that my age group was eligible for the vaccine, on Monday I was able to make an appointment, and yesterday I GOT VACCINATED!!!!!!!!! (Also, thank you to the kind pharmacist who "faked" giving me the vaccine solely so I could get a picture. She was beyond kind, and not just because of that!) 


I was cooking and baking a "mixed" bag of food one morning this week -- boiling potatoes and eggs for potato salad and baking muffins and making lemonade with leftover freshly squeezed lemon juice. 

{Your Choice}

Those of you who have read around here for awhile will remember that our family loves having our own individual hand soaps in the bathroom. During Covid, we ran out and had to use regular soap for a year. About a month ago, while Rachel had dance, the rest of us went to the mall to run a few errands and we randomly decided to visit our favourite soap store again. It's such a small thing, but it's made me smile to see our soaps again. To me, it's another very small sign that things might slowly be returning to normal. 

Monday, April 19, 2021

April Reading, Thus Far

Well, our province is under yet another stay-at-home order and we had our delayed March Break last week so I've had a lot of time to read lately and this post sure shows that! I almost don't need to participate in the readathon coming up this weekend, but you know I will :) So here's what I've been reading thus far.

I said I was potentially spending the Easter weekend with Feyre and the gang and well... I did. I didn't do much else, including sleeping or spending much time with my family (ooops) but I had an excellent reading weekend :) And let me just say that reading these the second time around, they were just as good as when I first read them about three years ago.
Hello, Friends!: Stories from My Life and Blue Jays Baseball
If you aren't a baseball fan, or a Toronto Blue Jays fan, then this likely isn't the book for you. However, I am both and, after listening to Jerry Howarth call baseball games on the radio for a few years, I LOVED this book. I loved learning more Blue Jays history. I loved reliving the 2015 and 2016 seasons. I loved it all. It also made me sadder than ever that the Jays don't have specific radio announcers anymore -- they're just using the TV feed but reporting baseball for TV is very different than reporting it for people on the radio who don't have access to any visuals.

Danielle Steel was one of the first adult authors I ever started reading, around Grade 9. I know, I know. But when I saw this book in a Free Little Library I couldn't resist picking it up. I don't know that I need to read another Daneille Steel book but it was sure fun to remember back to my high school self who couldn't read these novels fast enough :)
After I'd finished this book, I realized it was really a book of short stories. Normally I don't like short stories, but these ones sucked me in and I couldn't read them fast enough. I liked this even better than Transcendent Kingdom, Gyasi's second novel. I highly recommend this book of family history about two half-sisters and their families who live separate stories and then come back together.
Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself
My best friends lent me this book and I loved it. I devoured it in one sitting. I loved how honest Dr Biden was about her reluctance to get into a relationship with President Biden and how she knew that she needed to have work outside the home. This book, along with Vice-President Kamala Harris' book, made me want to institute a special Sunday night dinner no matter what! I really do love getting a behind the scenes look at the lives of these women.

Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake, #1)
I started this book before bedtime and stayed up way too late reading it. It terrified me and I was frozen in place for a couple of hours, unable to put it down to go to sleep or go to the bathroom. I didn't sleep well after reading about two-thirds of it and had to finish it in broad daylight so I wouldn't be as scared. It's been awhile since a book has scared me this much. It's not that it's that violent but it's more of a psychological thriller which I can't handle. There are four more books in this series (thus far) and I WILL NOT be checking them out.
Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
It seems funny to put these two books together but they are both books I got for free, and they are both books about not taking things too seriously.

The Library of Lost and Found 
This is a book that I think Dave bought at Costco for my birthday a couple of years ago. And I still hadn't gotten around to reading it. However, I devoured it in a couple of sittings last week. It was a fun story of an older woman (probably around my age -- yikes!) breaking out of the defined norms of her life and learning to be happy. I really loved this book and would recommend it for an easy read about life.
The Duke and I (Bridgerton #1)
Well you know that I jumped on the Bridgerton bandwagon. Since we don't have Netflix, the only way I was going to be able to take advantage of this craze was to read the books, which are always better anyways :) This was a perfect Friday night read and I read it in one sitting. And now I have to wait for ten other people to be done with the next book before my library hold comes in. Boo :(
The Girl with the Louding Voice
This book was so good. I highly recommend it. Adunni has a "louding voice" and her story is one I will not soon forget. And I like Adunni's updated version of Scarlett O'Hara's famous line: "Tomorrow will be better than today" is how Adunni reminds herself that life will improve.

There are twelve days left of April and I still have a few library books which are overdue so I have to get back to reading. Hahaha! What have you read thus far in April? Do you have any recommendations for me? I prefer "not terrifying" but other than that the bar of what I'll read is set fairly low these days :)

Saturday, April 17, 2021

I Spy: Week 15

Since it's Saturday, I'm linking up with Lysha at at A Camera and A Cookbook for her I Spy Photo Challenge. I've really been enjoying this challenge and am glad that it forces me to look for photos in the every day.

Let's Play iSpy 2021

{turquoise (my {Lysha's} favorite color)}

I really wasn't sure what to do with this prompt and then I remembered my watering can which I think is turquoise. I also feel like the colour really pops against the grey of the fence and rocks.


 Sadly, I have spring allergies and they're hitting me really hard this year which sucks. I am taking allergy pills but also trying some naturopathic remedies -- local honey and nettle tea. We'll see if anything can get rid of my itchy eyes, which is honestly, my most frustrating symptom.

{dots or stripes}

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with this prompt and then yesterday I was walking home along the railway tracks and it hit me that this was my "stripes" picture. Okay, maybe it's more a "lines' photo but it's what I've got :)

{starts with A}

We finally finished our self-guided cemetery tour which we started last spring. This is the cemetery very close to our house where we spend a lot of time walking or riding bikes. This angel was on one of the monuments in the cemetery.

{your choice}

I love the colour of the blackberries against my FiestaWare bowl. Having bright dishes, and picking one to contrast with my snacks, is a small joy in my life :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

10 On The 10th: April 2021

Today is the third day of our province's March April Break. Since we're under a third lock down here in Ontario, we're just staying home all week, except for trying to go for a walk every day. Other than that, I've been doing a lot of reading. Since Saturday was April 10th, here are my pictures for my more "regular" 10 on the 10th.

Lately Rachel has been starting every morning with a cup of tea. I love that on Saturday she was drinking tea and reading a book. She takes after her mother and I am so here for it!

Yes, we are in a lock down but they have also allowed home construction to continue, and right after I'd hung my first load of laundry, the workers next door showed up to do the roof. On a Saturday. I lost my mind and then decided we were going for a walk. We had some errands to run but picking up freshly baked pretzels from the corner bakery was not on our original list. But someone passed us on the path eating a pretzel and they looked so good, we had to find out where they got them! The pretzels were so yummy. And they reminded us of eating pretzels after we'd walked over the Brooklyn Bridge so it was fun to remember that.

I had to capture a picture of my favourite people on my favourite path. We had to pick up pansies from our neighbourhood fundraiser, get more coffee, and go to the library.

Since it was a beautiful day, and the construction noise was relentless, we went for a walk at a local conservation area in the afternoon. It was lovely!

Most of the paths were not like this beautiful boardwalk, and in fact, we went out of our way to walk along it, but Rachel and I both felt it was well worth it.

Inspired by an Instagram friend. we have a string of photos in our dining room. Each photo represents a month. We've decided our theme for 2021 is "forests and woods" so this is going to be our April photo.

At one point we could walk to a lookout and this was our view. It was so peaceful, I could have stayed here for a few hours.

The variety of paths and landscapes in this particular conservation area was incredible. Sometimes we were walking on grass, sometimes we were walking beside a lake, sometimes we were on the boardwalk, and sometimes we were walking through an evergreen forest.

I didn't realize until afterwards that I had captured a wasp on this blossom. I was just trying to capture a closeup of the yellow!

I was so excited to get two loads of laundry drying on the line. Laundry hanging makes me happy. And when we'd gotten home from the conservation area, the construction workers were gone so I could sit outside and read and have a drink in peace. Yay!